Pingyao has some of the finest surviving walls in China
Pingyao is delimited by its walls which are one of its great glories. Although the town claims to go back for 2700 years, the walls were built in their final form in the Ming dynasty in AD 1370.
And they are indeed magnificent: 6.4 kilometres long and ten metres high, built of rammed earth, in places faced with brick.
But what is perhaps remarkable is that it was laid out to what is the standard plan of Chinese towns: oriented north-south with six gates, one each in north and south and two each in the east and east walls with a rigid grid of streets inside; quite unlike the chaotic development of European towns.
The Pingyao walls are very substantial with a broad carriageway along the top with splendid towers at intervals, and with 72 bastions placed round the outside. It must have involved a major effort in the original construction and even today the maintenance of the walls eats up a substantial part of the heritage budget.
On to the Town Houses
5th December 2014