Ancient City of Pingyao
well-preserved example of a traditional Chinese city
Pingyao, near Taiyuan City in central Shanxi Province, is renowned for its well-preserved ancient city walls. It became a UNESCO World Heritage Site together with the outlying Zhenguo Temple (镇国寺, Zhènguó Sì) and Shuanglin Temple (双林寺, Shuānglín Sì) in 1997.

Pingyao still keeps its city layout from the Ming and Qing dynasties, conforming to a typical bagua pattern (Eight Trigrams associated with Taoist symbolism). More than 300 sites in or near the city have ancient ruins and the number of preserved Ming and Qing style residences is close to 4,000. The streets and storefronts still largely keep their historical appearance.

The city walls of Pingyao were constructed in 1370. The pattern of the walls is similar to that of a turtle, earning Pingyao the nickname Turtle City. There are four structured towers at the four corners with 72 watchtowers and more than 3,000 battlements. Most of the city walls are well-preserved, making the city walls the centerpiece of the Heritage Site.

Pingyao was the financial center of China in the late Qing Dynasty. There were 20 financial institutions in the city, comprising more than half of total in the whole country. Among these is Rishengchang, considered the first bank in China.
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