Streets and markets of Pingyao

Pingyao Ancient City has four main streets, 8 roads and 72 lanes and alleys. The layout of the streets and lanes are like the eight diagrams on a mythological Chinese tortoise shell. The main streets are Dong Da Jie, Xi Da Jie, Nan Da Jie (also called Ming-Qing Street), Chenghuangmiao Jie and Yamen Jie. The most important buildings and elegant residences lined these streets, with many of them remaining today, along with numerous smaller buildings. Some of the courtyards, gates and narrow streets have deep ruts worn in the siltstone paving slabs and bricks, bearing witness to the busy traffic of olden days, when carts of silver and carriages daily arrived from and left for distant places across China. Many languages and dialects were heard on the streets of Pingyao and new customs were brought by travelers.

 

Traveling was a risky business, but was the economic lifeline of China. The three-storey Market Tower is the center and joint point of the city streets. The buildings such as Ancient City Government seat, Town God’s Temple, Confucius Temple, Military God Temple, Wealth God Temple and Lucky Fortune Temple are arranged symmetrically. Having stood a long time weather-wearing, all these buildings show no sign of dilapidation. In front of the gates of some magnificent buildings and grand shops, deep ruts on the ground are still there to be seen, reminding visitors of its ancient busy traffic and commercial situation. The streets in this ancient town are broad and very well arranged. Dotted with memorial archways and decorated gateways, stretching one after another and high and low, the old houses and courtyards flanking the streets and lanes remind visitors of the long past and their ancestral places. Walking along the ancient streets, you seem to have landed in a world beyond the present one.

The Market Tower is 18.5 meters in height. It is the highest building within the main street from the south to the north running through it. It is said the marketing was going on around the Tower all day long, thus it was named the Market Tower. Belonging now to the historical sites protected by the provincial government, the Market Tower was renovated in 1688 during the Emperor Kangxi Period of Qing Dynasty, but people still don’t know when it was first built.

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