As one of the 24 famous historical cities in China, Datong is known for its abundant historical relics and unusual natural beauty.
Yungang Grottoes, one of the three major cave clusters in China, punctuate the north cliff of Wuzhou Mountain in Datong. The area around the mountain was excavated revealing 53 caves and over 51,000 stone statues. Started in 450, the grottoes are a relic of the Northern Wei Dynasty (386-534). Absorbing Indian Gandhara Buddhist art, the sculptures have traditional Chinese art melded with social features of the time.
Wooden Pagoda in Yingxian County
This stunning pagoda is the oldest and highest wooden structure in China. Regarded as the ‘First Pagoda in the World’ and a gem in the architectural field, it was built during the Liao Dynasty (about 1056), and has been around for about 900 years.
Externally, the Pagoda appears as a five-story structure, but in fact it has a total of nine stories with four hidden inside. It was built with about 54 different kinds of brackets without any nails or rivets! With a unique octagon structure in each tier, and a specially designed lightning top, the pagoda stands firmly and remains intact – despite long exposure to the elements, violent earthquakes and intense thunderbolt. In fact, when the wind blows, its rustic little bells add a sweet element to any tour.
Etched into the side of a mountain’s foot on a high cliff hemmed in by a precipice on either side, the Overhanging Temple, was built during the Northern Wei Dynasty (386-534). From the bottom visitors can see range upon range of pavilions supported by dozens of wooden pillars. And upon entering the temple will be surprised by its half-house and half-cave inner structures.
At 2016.1 meters (6,617 feet), the Tianfeng Summit is the highest peak in Datong. The steep north slope is covered with verdant pine trees, some of them growing on the cliff with roots burrowing into the rocks; exotic flowers and rare herbs and odd-shaped stones. The south slope is studded by lots of temples where emperors worshipped the North Mountain.