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Many attractions become easier to reach thank to new high-speed rail Xi'an - Taiyuan.

23-Aug-2014 - Renato Berti (Photo Xinhuanet)
Many attractions become easier to reach thank to new high-speed rail Xi'an - Taiyuan.
Faster trips also to visit Pingyao ancient city, the Hanging Temple, the Yungang Grottoes.

The new high-speed rail between Xi'an and Datong (north west China) allow an easier visit to some of the greatest wonders of China, such as the Hanging Temple (Taiyuan), Pingyao ancient city (Jinzhong), Yungang Grottoes (Datong), the Mount Wutai (Taihuai), the sacred mountain with its 50 magnificent ancient Buddhist temples. For now it has been completed (and opened a few weeks ago) the section between Xian and Taiyuan city (573 km). To make this trip before 9 hours were needed, now it only takes 2.5 hours. When completed the last part between Taiyuan and Datong, the Xian - Datong trip, that previously required more than 10.5 hours, will be covered in 3.5 hours by train. The new high-speed route will create benefits not only to the Chinese who must travel on these areas, but also to tourist, that will easily reach attractions located between Xi'an and Taiyuan. Here we describe briefly three major tourist destinations: Hanging Temple (Taiyuan), Pingyao ancient city (Jinzhong), Yungang Grottoes (Datong).

Xuankong Temple, the temple Hanging on the mountain
Hanging Temple, or Xuankong Temple, is one of the most amazing and spectacular buildings of China. Located near Mount Heng, in Hunyuan County (a few kilometers from Taiyuan), the temple is literally hanging on the mountain at a height of 75 meters, on the overhanging precipice. Although it was built about 1500 years ago, the temple has been designed with scientific standard, and its construction has been done in a workmanlike manner, as evidenced by his long life of 16 centuries. Inside the temple, the dimensions are larger than it may seem, in fact there are more than 40 rooms. The building is supported by oak sleepers fitted into holes chiseled into the rock. The Hanging Temple also has another unique feature in the world, it is the only existing temple that combines three religions, Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism.

Pingyao, catapulted in ancient China
The most common impression among the visitors that go beyond the entrance of old town area, is that of being catapulted back in time. Many say that Pingyao (about 80 km away from Taiyuan, Shanxi) is one of the best preserved ancient cities in the world. Pingyao has a history of 2700 years and has been able to preserve with care the remnants of its past. Its walls were built in 1370 by Emperor Hongwu. With dimensions of 7 meters wide and 12 meters tall, the walls have a circumference of 6000 meters and are still surrounded by a moat 4 meters high (and deep 4). In addition to the four large towers, one for any corner, the walls are interspersed with 72 control towers and six gates. Within the oldest part of the city, there are more than 4000 ancient houses (Ching and Ming style) and is still inhabited by about 50,000 people. Even the roads, the buildings, the oldest shopping areas, all maintained a look of yesteryear. Walking in Pingyao the peoples have the impression of being in China many centuries ago. This city has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

The Yungang Grottoes, 51 thousand sculptures 1500 years old
The Yungang Grottoes (old name is Wuzhoushan Grottoes) are sculpted and perfected by Buddhist monks during the Northern Wei Dynasty (386-557). For tourist, they are one of the most extraordinary sights in China. Distant 16 kilometers from the west of Datong city, they are located on the north side of Wuzhou Mountain, along the Shi Li River valley. The Yungang Grottoes are 1500 years old. The most fertile period, which saw the birth of the largest number of sculptures, is the one that goes from 460 to 525. In that period a great master of Buddhist art (the monaco Tan Yao) worked very actively. From his hands were born the Five Caves, to this day the most popular caves for their high historical and artistic value. The 45 main caverns, together with other 209 smaller caves, occupying a total area of over 18,000 sqm. The grottoes are adorned with 51,000 stone sculptures, the highest measuring 17 meters and the smallest measuring just two centimeters. Yungang caves (togheter with the caves of Mogao and Longmen) are one of the three most popular sites in China in the Buddhist art. During 2001 the UNESCO has declared a Yungang Grottoes as a World Heritage Site. Today, the Yungang Caves are already visited by hundreds thousands of tourists. Aside from being a very interesting attraction, in fact, the area is not too far away from Beijing. Moreover Datong is the first stage of China railway Express Transmongolian. Soon, with the completion of high-speed railway between Xian and Datong, these beautiful caves will be even more appreciated by tourists from all over the world.
23-Aug-2014 - Renato Berti (Photo Xinhuanet)

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