This Naxos China Travelogue tour of Shanxi starts with the ancient walled city of Pingyao, once a thriving commercial center. The former wealth of the province is witnessed by the Courtyard Houses of the Qu and Wang families, extensive compounds dating principally from the 18th century. Shuanglin Temple, part of the Pingyao world heritage site, is seen, with its collection of 2,000 painted statues from the Song and Yuan dynasties. There are views of Mount Wutai, the first of the Four Sacred Mountains for Chinese Buddhism, with some of its many monasteries and temples, and other Buddhist monuments at the Chongsan Monastery and Jinci Temple. The most remarkable of all is the Hanging Monastery at the foot of Mount Heng, one of the Five Sacred Mountains of Taoism, apparently hanging on a sheer cliff-face. The Yingxian Wooden Pagoda of Fogong Temple, dating from the 11th century, is the oldest and highest in China. Still earlier are the carvings of the Yungang Grottoes, some 51,000 statues of the Buddha in 252 caverns, dating originally from the 5th and 6th centuries. The tour ends with the sight of the remarkable Hukuo Waterfall, with its 50-metre descent in a gorge on the Yellow River. The journey is accompanied by traditional Chinese instruments and music.
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