Pingyao County

Pingyao is a county in central Shanxi province in China. It is located approximately 715 kilometres southwest of Beijing and 80 kilometres from the provincial capital, Taiyuan. During the Qing Dynasty, Pingyao was a financial centre of China. The ancient city, whose history dates back some 2,700 years and which is renowned for its well-preserved city walls, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a major tourist attraction. It is still inhabited by some 50,000 residents.

Historical importance

Pingyao still retains its city layout from the Ming and Qing dynasties, conforming to a typical Ba gua pattern. More than 300 sites in or near the city have ancient ruins. Preserved Ming- and Qing-style residences number close to 4,000. The streets and storefronts still largely retain their historical appearance.

In the Spring and Autumn Period, the county belonged to the kingdom of Jin. It was part of the kingdom of Zhao in the Warring States period. In the Qin Dynasty, it was known as Pingtao. During the Han Dynasty, it was known as Zhongdu county. In 1986, the China designated Pingyao as one of the Chinese Historic and Cultural Cities. It became a World Heritage Site in 1997, including the outlying Zhenguo Temple and Shuanglin Temple.

City walls

The city walls of Pingyao were constructed in the 3rd year of the Hongwu Emperor (1370). The walls have six barbican gates. The north and south sides have one gate each. The east and west sides have two gates each. This pattern is similar to that of a turtle (the head, tail and four legs), earning Pingyao the moniker "Turtle City." The walls measure about 12 metres high, with a perimeter of 6,000 metres. A 4-metre wide, 4-metre deep moat can be found just outside the walls. Aside from the four structured towers at the four corners, there are also 72 watchtowers and more than 3,000 battlements. In 2004, part of the southern walls collapsed but were reconstructed. However, the rest of the city walls are still largely intact and are considered among the best-preserved ancient city walls on this scale. This makes the city walls the centrepiece of the Heritage Site.


Pingyao was the financial centre of China in the late Qing Dynasty. During those times, there were as many as 20 financial institutions within the city, comprising more than half of total in the whole country. Among these is "Rishengchang," considered the first bank in China. Rishengchang controlled almost 50% silver trade when its scale reached the top in the whole Qing Dynasty. It continued to maintain its prosperity until going bankrupt in 1914 because lots of the modern banks were built up. The 2009 film Empire of Silver depicted the tribulations of a Shanxi bank-owning family that lived in Pingyao during the early 20th century.

  • Pingyao Bell Tower
  • 平遙縣-市樓(清康熙二十七年1688年建立)西元2000年攝
  • 九龙壁木雕--平遥古城--中国山西
  • Pingyao, ville fortifiée du XVème
  • 平遥古城 The Ancient City of Ping Yao 20100618 animacor
  • 平遥22,德雨楼 - Pingyao 22, Deyu Tower
  • 平遥8,市楼 - Pingyao 8, Market Tower
  • 平遥24,德雨楼 - Pingyao 24, Deyu Tower
  • 平遥古城--山西晋中
  • 平遥古城--中国山西
  • 平遥古城--中国山西
  • 平遥古城--中国山西
  • 平遥古城--中国山西
  • 平遥古城--中国山西
  • 山西平遙古城縣署-入衙令人想起兩廂站立著拿水火棍的當差衙役一陣威武之聲叫人心驚膽跳
  • 平遥古城市楼
  • 蔚为大观
  • 协同庆1
  • main street south view
  • 平遙日升昌票號舊址
  • 蔚豐厚(平遙古民居博覽苑)
  • 平遙縣署
  • Opportunity for a photo here in front of the Norh side of the 14th-century Market Tower, North Street, Pingyao, Shanxi
  • Pingyao at far too early on a winter morning
  • 平遥市楼-流浪的狗狗
  • 钱庄博物馆2
  • 平遥古城的市楼 Market Tower in Pingyao
  • 汇武林1
  • 海纳百川
  • Exteriors of guest rooms at the Yun Jin Cheng Folk-Style Hotel, Pingyao, Shanxi
  • Guest room (left), kitchen (right), Rishengchang Museum, Pingyao
  • Day 8: In a museum of Pingyao
  • PingYao, prison museum. A breath of fresh air.
  • 古城平遥(梁金 2001)
  • 商会博物馆2
  • 平遥县衙博物馆