The city wall of datong has not been torn down, but for many many years it was just not noticed. Now the former mayor from the old city of Pingyao is mayor of Datong and wants to develop Datong into a nice historical city, bigger than Pingyao but as beautiful.
The city wall is from the 14th century Ming-Dynastie.
The center of old Datong is still der Drum Tower, which is 18.33 meters long from east to west, 14 meters wide from north to south, and 20meters high, i It was built in Ming dynasty. And during the Qing dynasty it was repaired.
Because of the historical value of this tower, in 1966, it was regarded as the City Protected Historic Site. In 1978, government repaired this building again. In 1985, this building got painted all around. From then on, this tower has a completely new face. It has been restored its original condition-old-fashioned, grand, and majestic.
I am not quite sure, whether this is part of the Huayan Temple or it is a separat temple. Just next to the walls of the Huayan Temple I found this lively Buddhists Temple in a side street. The small halls were full of monchs and worshippers. As it was in the time of a Buddhist festival I was invited to eat with the locals and do my prayers here.
In the centre of Datong you find the big complex of Huayan Temple.. There are two separate sections to the monastery, the upper one referred to as the Grand Hall housing five large Ming Dynasty Buddhas, and the lower section referred to as the Sutra Temple containing a library of some 18,000 volumes of Buddhist writings. Built during the Liao Dynasty (907 - 1125), the Huayan Monastery is the largest and best preserved monastery of the Liao Dynasty in existence in China. This monastery was built according to the Huayan Sutra Sect of the Huayan School and is unique in that it faces east instead of south.
When I visited Datong in 2009 big renovating works were going on. The big halls were not accessible. It was nice to watch the works as it was obvious, that ancient techniques and a lot of wood were used for rebuilding the halls. The renovation should be completed in 2011.
Shanhua Monastery is a very beautiful Buddhist Temple, which is about 900 years old with fine statues and great wall-paintings. The temple has been first build as early as the 8th century.
Now it consists of three Hall, the oldest buildings going back to the 11th century. Today (2009) it is more a museum than a working temple. It is a quite place. Not many tourist visit it.
Go to this temple in late afternoon. In the square in front of the temple close to the city wall people gather for singing and theatre.
Cerca de Datong también se puede ver La Gran Muralla , aunque en esta zona no es tan espectacular y turística como lo es en los alrededores de Beijing
near Datong you may see the Great Wall , but on this area is not so spectacular and tourist as it is in the Beijing surrounds
Hay una gran variedad de figuras talladas , que no son sólo Budas , sino que también hay Bodhisattvas , discípulos que han renunciado al nirvana para salvar a otros , Arhats , Apsaras , Guerreros... y lo curioso es la gran variedad ya que pueden ser de unos pocos centímetros o bien de más de 17 metros de alto
Una de las cosas que más te impresiona y te gusta de las cuevas es el color de los techos y las paredes , que a pesar de los años y de la polución que existe en esta zona por las minas de carbón , se ha conservado mostrando una gran riqueza de matices y tonalidades
Nota : no es fácil hacer fotos en la cueva por la falta de luz y por lo reducido desus dimensiones
There are a great variety of carved figures, which are not only Buddhas, but there are also Bodhisattvas, disciples who have renounced to nirvana to save other people , Arhats, Apsaras, Warriors ... And the curious is the variety as they can be of a few centimetres to more than 17 meters high
One of the things that most impresses you and you like in the caves is the colour of the paintings in the walls and ceilings , that despite of the years and the pollution ,that exists in this area for the coal mines ,it has been preserved and its very rich in tones and shades
Note: It is not easy to make pictures in the cave by the lack of light and by they reduced dimensions
El clan de los Tangut convirtió a Datong en la capital de la dinastía Wei
Eran devotos Budistas y por eso empezaron la las grutas en el año 453 hasta el año 494 en que se trasladaron a Luoyang , donde construyeron las grutas de Longmen
Las grutas ocupan una longitud de más de un kilómetro numeradas del uno al veinte y está divididas en tres grupos.
La riqueza artística de las esculturas es una prueba de la riqueza cultural de la Ruta de la Seda ya que podemos ver como existen influencias griegas , persas , centro asiáticas o hindúes
La entrada de las cuevas estaba protegida por un templo de madera que desafortunadamente han desaparecido , menos en las cuevas 5 y 6 , en las otras tan sólo quedan los agujeros en la roca donde se insertaban los travesaños
The Tangut clan turned Datong in the capital of the Wei dynasty
They were devout Buddhists and thus began the caves construction in the year 453 until 494 that they moved to Luoyang, where they built the Longmen grottoes
The caves are distributed in a length of more than one kilometre , they are numbered from one to twenty and they are divided into three groups.
The artistic wealth of the sculptures is a testament to the rich heritage of the Silk Road as we can see there are influences from Greece, Persia, India or Centre Asian
The entrance to the caves was protected by a wooden temple that unfortunately have disappeared, except in the caves 5 and 6, in the other caves only remain the holes in the rock where the support wooden logs were inserted
En el centro de Datong se encuentra el Muro pantalla de los Nueve Dragones que están flotando sobre las nubes
Es el muro pantalla más grande de China y tiene unas dimensiones de : 45.5m X 8m X 2.02m
En los palacios , templos y casas se ponía un muro pantalla , con dragones representados en él que se colocaban delante de las puertas principales y servían para que la gente no fisgara dentro de los edificios y para que cuando bajaban de sus carruajes pudieran darse los últimos retoques antes de entrar
El número de dragones depende de la jerarquía del dueño , así este que tiene nueve dragones, era del emperador
In Datong center is the Screen Wall of the Nine Dragons screen , that are floating on the clouds
It is he largest screen wall in China with 45.5m X 8m X 2.02m
In the palaces, temples and houses they put a wall screen, with dragons represented on it and they were located were put in front of the main doors as they served to avoid people peeping within buildings, and that when the visitors descended from their carriages they could give their selves the last touches before entering to the building
The number of dragons depends on the hierarchy of the owner, and as this has nine dragons , it belonged to one emperor
Para subir a la presa que está río arriba hay un sendero con una puerta que es la cabeza de un dragón
To climb to the water resevoir , that is up the river , there is a path with a gate that is a Dragon head
El templo está en la montaña de Hen Shan que es una de las cinco montañas sagradas taoistas
Para evitar las inundaciones del río Heng , durante la dinastía Ming se hicieron cuarenta pabellones en las cuevas y grutas de la montaña y les pusieron unas fachadas que descansan sobre unos pilotes . Los templos están unidos entre si por escaleras y puentes y en ellos hay estatuas de las tres Religiones , Confucio , Buda y LaoTse
The temple is in the mountains of Shan Hen which is one of the five sacred Taoists mountains
To prevent flooding of the river Heng, during the Ming dynasty they made forty pavillions in the natural caves and caverns of the mountain and they put façades that are supported on pilots . Temples are linked one to another by stairs and bridges and there are statues of the three religions, Confucius. Buddha and LaoTse
In the city center I also visited the Shanhua temple, which I enjoyed very much. It is also worth a short visit.
There are several halls standing in a line with hige Bhudda statues. In the left corner of this park you can see a part of a Nine Dragon Screen.
Entrance fee was 5 Kuai.
Location: It is hidden in a small alley on the right side of the main street (if you come from the railwaystation) Da Beijie/Nanguan Nanjie.
When you get to Datong you have to see the Hanging Monastery(Xuankong Si) . I love it, but you need one day for a visit because it is about 70 km outside of Datong. But it`s awesome! Like a little bird nest hanging on the cliffs. So peaceful!
On the way back it started to snow heavily and there are difficult climbs and winding roads through the mountains - the minibus was overloaded with 22 , like always in China, instead of 10 people for which the bus was originally built. Some cars were already stuck or were in the ditches - but for Gods sake, our driver had some snow chains which saved the day!
The highlight are the Yungang Caves, a world heritage with more than 50.000 buddha statues (formerly more than 100.000!!!) from a few centimeters to more than 17 meters of height. It is very close to the city, about 20 minutes by bus. The place was built in the days when China adopted the Buddhism from India. You can see the change from sharp cut faces with long noses and sari clothes of the oldest statues to round faces with short noses, Chinese clothes and typical eyes of the newest statues in these caves.
Ok...this is my second most favourite place in China (after the wall). Perhaps it has something to do with the heights. Of all the places in China, the people I was travelling with chose not to do the Wall and the Hanging Monastery due to their fear of heights.
Here's a big tip. Get over your fear of heights before coming to China, because these were the two BEST things to see!!
The Monastery is awesome, set into a cliff, hundreds of metres in the air. The question I kept asking was why? Why would they build a monastery in such a precarious position, when there is perfectly good flat land all around? I think I'll google and do some research on that one.