Taiyuan, the capital city of Shanxi Province, is rich
in political, military, and religious history. The region
in northern part of China is well known for its Buddhist
and Taoist sites, including the famous Mt. Wutai and the
As for the history of Taiyuan, it was a small settlement
founded some 2,400 years ago and was known as Jinyang.
Its location in a valley near the Fen River put it near
the invasion routes from the nomadic regions in the north
to the agricultural heartland near the Yellow River. The
founder of the Tang dynasty, Li Yuan, used this area as
a base for the peasant uprising that overthrew the Sui
regime in the early 7th century. Jinyang was destroyed
in 979 by the forces of Song dynasty, and was rebuilt
three years later.
Starting in 1375
in the early Ming dynasty, the town became the seat of government
for this region and was expanded greatly.
In the 19th century, English, French, and Russian invaders
had exploited the region's mineral resources on a large scale
as the area is rich with coal - mines. At the end of Qing
dynasty after 1911, Taiyuan was governed by the powerful warlord,
Yan Xishan until 1949, by the time of new China founded. Taiyuan
is now a major industrial city in northern China, especially
for the coal production. It is also one of the attractive
tourist cities where both the natural scenery and the typical
residential architecture are well combined.
Jinci," the ancient
Buddhist temple, is located at the source of the Jin River by
Xuanwang Hill 25km southwest of Taiyuan. It was originally built
in 1023 of the Song dynasty, but countless additions and restorations
were made over the centuries. Entering the temple, the first
major structure you will see is the Mirror Terrace. This is
a Ming building that was once used as an open-air theatre. To
the west of the Mirror Terrace is the Zhibo's Canal runing through
the temple complex. Above the canal is the Huixian Bridge which
provides the access to
the "Terrace of the Four Iron Statutes" cast in 1097
AD. There is a Bell Tower and a Drum Tower built in front of
the Xian Hall. This hall used to display sacrificial offerings
and was built during the Jin Dynasty (1168 AD). To the west
of this hall is the Fish Pond.
Inside of the Nanlao and Shanli Fountains, are 42 colored clay
figures of maidservants standing around a large seated statue
of the "Sacred Lady". This figure is said to be the
mother of Prince Shuyu of the ancient Zhou nynasty. The ages,
shapes, faces, expressions of the characters are all quite different.
In the southern part of the temple is the Sacred Pagoda, a seven-storied
octagonal building constructed at the end of the 7th century.
Jinci Temple is one of the popular parks near the city and attracts
many people on holidays.
Pagoda Temple (Shuangta Si)
Twin Pagoda Temple, the symbol of Taiyuan, dates back
to the Ming Dynasty. Each pagoda is an octagon with 13
55 meters high. They are built entirely of bricks and
carved to resemble ancient Chinese wooden pagodas. Inside
the courtyard, samples of the famous handwritings of Chinese
ancient calligraphers can be seen, and in front of the
main hall, cloves and peony blossoms in the spring. These
beautiful flowers make the old temple more elegant and
attractive during the tourist seasons.