The City Walls

Timeless Travels Magazine - - CHINA -

The city walls of Pingyao were con­structed in 1370, in the 3rd year of Em­peror Hongwu of the Ming Dy­nasty. They en­close an area of about 2.25km² (0.87 sq miles). The town is laid out on a stan­dard Chi­nese plan. It is ac­cessed by six gates, one each on the north and south walls and two each on the east and west walls. The town is laid out in a typ­i­cal ba gua (or eight di­a­grams) pat­tern, which is based on Taoist cos­mol­ogy, and there­fore has a strict grid pat­tern.

The walls are 12m (39ft) high, and are made of mud faced with brick. A 4m (13ft) wide and 4m (13ft) deep moat can be found just out­side the walls. Orig­i­nally there were four struc­tured tow­ers at the four cor­ners but they no longer ex­ist. How­ever, there are 72 watch­tow­ers and more than 3,000 bat­tle­ments. The top of the walls are 3-6m (10-20ft) wide, which is enough to sup­port a broad car­riage­way, and the num­ber of de­fen­sive works sup­pos­edly rep­re­sents the num­ber of Con­fu­cius’s dis­ci­ples and other stu­dents. The walls are con­sid­ered among the best-pre­served an­cient city walls on this scale in China. Do take the time to walk along them as they af­ford a fas­ci­nat­ing view into the houses and lives of the peo­ple liv­ing next to them.

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