While such banks eventually declined when faced with stiff competition from foreign corporations, Pingyao managed to preserve its heritage; among the top highlights include The City Walls, whose gates date from almost seven hundred years ago, and the Rishengchang Exchange House, once China's largest, most powerful bank.
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Built between 827-782 BC, the ancient City Walls of Pingyao are over 2,700 years old. Shaped like a tortoise, the Chinese symbol of longevity, the wall comprises 72 watchtowers, a moat, and 3,000 firing-holes. The wall measures 2.5 miles (4 kilometers), and makes for a pleasant stroll.
The Rishengchang Exchange House is an excellent destination where one can learn about the fascinating banking history of Pingyao. Pingyao was the financial center of all of Mainland China during the latter part of the Qing Dynasty and featured the first bank in the entire nation – Rishenchang – which controlled half of the silver trade in the nation. At its height, the bank had over 400 branches, and it only went out of business in 1914.
The Temple of the City God, or Chenghuang Miao, contains several courtyards and halls and a beautiful wooden archway. It was originally built in 960 A.D. and has been renovated on two occasions – in 1544 and 1859.
The Zhengou Temple and Shuanglin Temple are located on the outlying parts of the city. Both are Buddhist temples, and Zhengou is noted for its flying eaves and early 10th century sculptures, while Shuanglin houses more than 2,000 decorated clay statues that date from the 12th to the 19th centuries.
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