Things to Do in Pingyao
Located in southern Pingyao County, Shuanglin Temple is famous for the 2,000 painted clay sculptures dating back to the Song, Yuan, Ming and Qing Dynasties of China. The temple was originally founded in the late sixth century, but the current structures were built during the Ming and Qing dynasties.
The south-facing temple is divided into 10 halls, each containing its own collection of painted sculptures. Some of the highlights among them include the likeness of Avalokitesvara in the Hall of Sakya, a seated statue of Guanyu in the God of Battle Hall and a thousand-armed Bodhisattva inside Bodhisattva Hall.
Located in Jingsheng Town, Shanxi Province, the Wang Family Courtyard was built by the Wang family of Jingsheng, who were descendants of the Wang family of the city of Taiyuan – one of four of the most prominent families of the Qing Dynasty.
The Wang Family Courtyard isn’t a single courtyard as the name suggests; it is in fact a sprawling compound containing a cluster of courtyards and castles that demonstrate incredible examples of Chinese residential architecture from the Qing Dynasty period. The Gao Jia Ya and Red Gate Castle in particular have numerous courtyards and rooms built in this traditional architectural style.
Besides its fascinating architecture, the Wang Family Courtyard displays some ornate wood and stone carvings that demonstrate the artistic style of the time.
Situated in Pingyao, Shanxi Province, the Rishengchang Exchange is widely considered to have been the first bank in China, and you'll also see its name written as Rishengchang Bank, Rishengchang Draft Bank, or Sunrise Prosperity Bank. Established in 1823 during the Qing Dynasty, what began as one man’s efforts to manage the accounts of his own company developed into a private banking enterprise that, at its peak, controlled almost half of China’s economy.
Now converted into a museum, the Rishengchang Exchange comprises 21 buildings surrounded by three courtyards, with counters situated either side of the front yard. In one corner of this courtyard, an elderly man dressed in a traditional 19th-century robe writes out exchange bills bearing the red Rishengchang stamp, which he then issues to visitors as souvenirs.
In 2006, the Rishengchang Exchange was included on the list of monuments of the People's Republic of China.