Shanxi province is well known for its rich historical and cultural heritage. Shanxi has at present a total of 4,296 gazetted national monuments, of which 452 items are in Shanxi province, including some of the oldest and finest built heritage in China. This trip will bring us to northern Shanxi where some of these magnificent buildings are found, including the Foguang Temple 佛光寺 and Nanchan Temple 南禪寺 in Mount Wutai 五台山, the Wooden Octagonal Pagoda of Yingxian county 應縣木塔, the Jin Ancestral Hall in Taiyuan 晉祠, the Hanging Temple 懸空寺 in Hunyuan county, and above all, the Yungang Grottoes 雲崗石窟 at Datong which is now a World Heritage.
Historically, northern Shanxi lies at the border between nomadic tribes from Mongolia and the agrarian Han Chinese. The Great Wall running along the northern border of the province protected the land from the aggressive nomads. We will visit Yanmenguan 雁門關, one of the major fortified gatehouses along the Great Wall. We will also visit the Shanxi Provincial Museum 山西省博物館 at Taiyuan to study the unique collections of archeological finds which shed light on the origin and development of the culture of this part of northern China.
– Dr Joseph Ting