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Liao Dynasty Street

 

article selected from Travel China weekly

Yingxian Wooden Pagoda is a world-famous Buddhist pagoda in Yingxia County under the jurisdiction of Shouzhou City, Shanxi Province. Now a new Liao Dynasty Street has been built to the south of the noted pagoda. Running from north to south, the street together with the wooden pagoda constitutes in the county. The street was constructed in line with the architectural style and characteristics of the Liao Dynasty (916-1125). Its completion symbolizes the prosperity of the Liao Dynasty when the construction of the Yingxian Wooden Pagoda began.

Along the street stand buildings with the unique features of the Liao Dynasty. The organized layout of these buildings blends harmoniously with the street, creating both a simple and unsophisticated look. Some are two stories and some are three stories. Some have upturned leaves and some are decorated with crisscrossing beams. Each of these building links to another, forming a typical cultural street of the Liao Dynasty. Together with the wooden pagoda there is a unified architectural style.

The street is 340 meters in length, with a width of 18-meters (42-meters if the buildings on both sides are included). Its construction area covers 12,000 square meters. Twenty million yuan was invested in this large-scale project, where the market played the role of the lever without financial support from the central government. The local people have put their plan into practice and have also created a new way of developing local tourism. Now the Liao Dynasty Street serves as a tourist attraction with a special cultural flavor.

The street is also called a cultural street because it has such a deep cultural connotation. It lures tourists to take a long walk along it. Shops and stalls line both sides of the street and sell various kinds of goods and commodities, such as special local products, goods which are unique to northern Shanxi local food popular in the area beyond the Great Wall, and fine arts and souvenirs for tourists. The market scene is a symbol of the flourishing local tourism.

The magnificent wooden pagoda has stood here for 900 years. It is 60 meters tall and 30 meters in diameters at the base. As a representative of the architectural level and culture of the Liao Dynasty, it has become a noted historical site of cultural interest in the Dynasty, it has become a noted historical site of cultural interest in the Datong Tourist Area. Over the past 20 years, it has attracted numerous domestic and overseas tourists who have wanted to see for themselves its beauty and primitive simplicity. The cultural street has formed an entire architectural complex. As a window for both Chinese and foreigners to find out something about economic development in Yingxian County, the Liao Dynasty Street has put local tourism and the economy back on track.

Now the local people are working hard to level the ground in order to build a large square and the Pagoda Reflection Park to the south of the pagoda. They also plan to rebuild a section of the city wall around the square in order to show what the frontier fortress in the Liao Dynasty would have looked like, thus creating a tourist attraction with a unique atmosphere.

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