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  • Being the most outstanding Buddhist temples in China, Hanging (Xuankong) ...
  • The world-famous Longmen Grottoes are located 12km south of Luoyang, where Xiang ...
  • Huayan Monastery The Huayan Monastery complex is located on Daxi Street on the ...
  • Shanhua Temple Located inside the south gate of Datong City in Shanxi Province, ...
  • Mt. Hengshan Chinese recorded history tells us that Emperor Shun (circa 2372 BC) ...

Datong City, located in the north of Shanxi Province about 240 kilometers due west of Beijing and some 20 kilometers south of the Great Wall, which follows, roughly, the border between present-day Shanxi Province and Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, is one of the famous historic and cultural cities of China. In ancient times, Datong was a military stronghold whose mission was to hold back the hordes that frequently pushed south into China proper, from Mongolia. Indeed, this was the very raison d'être of the Great Wall. Today, however, Datong, alongside its tourism-oriented role as an important Chinese historical venue, provides one of the country's primary sources of energy, as significant coal deposits have been found here, giving Datong the somewhat dubious title of China's "coal capital".

  • View Mia's travel story in Shanxi with pictures

But the city of Datong is of course more than just a burgeoning industrial zone, it boasts a unique landscape and is the venue of some of China's most valued historical treasures, such as: Yungang Grottoes (see the link to Yungang Grottoes here); Hengshan Mountain, one of the five sacred mountains in Taoism/ Daoism; the Nine-Dragon Screen Wall, the largest dragon screen wall in China; the Hanging Temple, a Buddhist temple complex built into a cliff face that is both a thing of beauty and a marvel of engineering; the Wooden Pagoda of Fogong Temple, the oldest and tallest wooden pagoda in China; Shanhua Temple, whose buildings and statues date back to the Liao (CE 916-1125) and Jin (CE 1115-1234) Dynasties; Daxiong Palace, one of the largest ancient Buddhist shrines in China, and Bojia Palace, whose statues also date back to the Liao Dynasty, both of which palaces belong to the Huayan Temple complex, as does Tiangong Pavilion, making Datong City rich in cultural heritage.

In addition to these cultural highlights, Datong City has a past that is also linked to the overland Silk Road route (to distinguish it from the later "Silk Road" sea route). The city was founded around BCE 200 during the Han (BCE 206 – CE 220) Dynasty under the name Pingcheng. Pingcheng was a stopping-off point for camel caravans heading west along the Silk Road route.

Tips & articles

Located in Yingxian County, and about 70 kilometers south of Datong, the Wooden Pagoda is the oldest and highest wooden structure in China. It is regarded as the 'First Pagoda in the World' and a gem in the architectural field. It has now also been placed ...Read More
The Huayan Temple complex is located on Daxi Street on the south western side of Datong City, Shanxi Province. There are two separate sections to the temple, the upper one referred to as the Grand Hall housing five large Ming Dynasty Buddhas, and the lower ...Read More
Hengshan Mountain is located in Hunyuan County of Shanxi Province in northern China. It is the Northern Mountain of the Five Sacred Mountains. Boasting 108 peaks and spanning 150 kilometers, it has an average elevation of 2,017 meters. The Tianfeng Peak, the ...Read More

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Recent posts

by Damiana 2011-05-23
Datong Huayan Temple (Huayan si), lying in the western part of town, got its name because it was, and remains, a major temple of the Huayan sect, a sub-category of the Buddhism popular in north China. This is the largest and most perfectly preserved temple of the Liao (916-1125) and Jin (1115-1234) dynasties in China, and it is easy to spend a day here, ...
by Athelstan 2011-05-23
Datong Shanhua Temple (Shanhua si) is also called the South Temple (Nan si) because it lies in the southern section (Nan mian) of town, just within the confines of the old city walls. The temple is worthwhile visiting, part for its interesting history and architecture, but also because of the peacefulness of the grounds around, only occasionally upset by ...
by Catalin 2011-05-23
The real name of the Wooden Pagoda in Yingxian County, located in Fogong (Buddha's Palace) Temple in the northwestern corner of the county town of Yingxian, is Sakyamuni Pagoda. Since it was built completely of timber, it has been known popularly as the Wooden Pagoda of Yingxian County. It is the oldest wooden structure extant today in China, and also the ...