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Zhenguo Temple

Zhenguo Temple is about 12 kilometers (about 7.5 miles) away from the northeast of Pingyao County, occupying an area of 10,892 square meters (about 2.7 acres). It was first built in 963 in the Northern Han Dynasty (951 - 979), which was part of the Five Dynasties (907 - 960). It was renovated in 1816 during the Qing Dynasty (1644 - 1911). It is an important part of Pingyao world heritage and a major historic and cultural site under state protection.

This temple is divided into two parts: the front part and the back part. The gate of this Buddhist temple, which is also called the Tianwang Hall, has one bell tower on the left and one drum tower on the right. In the center is the Ten-Thousand-Buddha Hall. In the back of the temple are the Kwan-yin (Goddess of mercy) Shrine and the Dizang (God in charge of death) Shrine

Zhenguo Temple is famous for its building technique and the color-painted sculptures of the Five Dynasties. In terms of its building technique, the most representational is the Ten-Thousand-Buddha Hall, which is one of the three oldest timberworks in mainland China. In order to protect the Ten-Thousand-Buddha Hall from degradation under the eaves, a certain kind of large eave that is far longer and wider than the room itself was adopted when it was built. 'Dougong', a kind building technique, was applied to support the large eave.

Inside the temple there are eleven sculptures that belong to the Five Dynasties. These painted sculptures are valuable in terms of archaeology. The main sculpture is a sitting sculpture of Sakyamuni (founder of Buddhism) in the middle. On its sides are the sculptures of his apprentices along with other gods. All of these sculptures have different facial expressions and shapes. Though these sculptures have been renovated several times, the distinguished features of color-paint in the Five Dynasties are obvious.

There are another two scenic spots especially worth a look here. One is the half stele of the Northern Han Dynasty. This half stele was originally collected by the builders who wanted to set up a stele to record the building process. Then they found that the calligraphy on the stone was so beautiful that they finally decided to keep it in the temple. Later, scientists proved that the half stele turned out to be an epitaph for Liu Jiqin, grandson of Emperor Liu Chongzhi in the Northern Han Dynasty. This stele provided important details for research on the Northern Han Dynasty. Another one is the dragon scholar tree. Though it is over 1,000 years old, it remains lush and green. Visitors always admire the intricacies of the branches, which are in the shape of a dragon.

Admission Fee: CNY30 per person
Transportation: Take Pingyao public bus no.9 to the final stop and you are at Zhenguo Temple. 
Bus Fare: CNY3 per person.