Photographer's Note

The past prosperity of Shanxi lies in Pingyao while the soul of Pingyao lies in its Old City. There is no charming landscape. No green mountain or clear waters. What's unique here is this well-preserved ancient city with its grand, solemn city wall, its residences and shops, and even the government office all in the style of the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911). In 1997, when it was declared a World Cultural Heritage site for its Old City, Pingyao gradually opened up to the outside world and more and more people have come to have a look at this old city representing the prosperous past of Shanxi during the Ming and Qing eras.
Surrounded by the turtle-like ancient City Wall, Pingyao Old City is like a huge historical museum. Every street or building here has numerous stories to tell about the past one-thousand years. In the center of the Old City, the nearly 200 years old Rishengchang Exchange Shop is the first 'bank' in Chinese history and is known as the 'Father of the Bank in China'. It tells of the prosperity of the Jin Businessmen in Chinese history. The well-preserved County Government Office on Zhengfu Street (also Yamen Street) shows a complete picture of the solemn law court and prison of the Qing Dynasty while in Chenghuangmiao Street, the Temple of the City God and the Confucius Temple reveal a glimpse of local folk life. Along Ancient Ming-Qing Street, the old buildings in antique architecture styles may bring you back to the old China of that time.
Before I posted one more photo of Pingyao focusing first of all on the city walls. This picture shows the Old Town inside the walls with its inhabitants busy with their every day activities. It is strange experience seeing people dressed in modern way, driving bikes and small electric cars, yet still living in the same houses as their ancestors. The contrast of the past and present is quite striking.

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Additional Photos by Kamila Zadora (Kamilutka) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 571 W: 0 N: 1692] (8107)
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