On a green carpet through time

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Shanxi province boasts rich cultural heritage and natural beauty, including the ancient town of Pingyao, grand residences of famous merchant families and the scenic Mianshan Mountain. (Photo provided to China Daily)

 For those looking for a touch of the old, one place to go is the ancient town of Pingyao, 80 km to the south, which was listed as a World Cultural Heritage Site in 1997.

With Langzhong in Sichuan, Lijiang in Yunnan and Huizhou in Anhui province, Pingyao is one of China's four well-preserved ancient cities. It was built during the Western Zhou Dynasty (c. 11th century-771 BC).

Mercifully, Pingyao has escaped the commercialization that has blighted other ancient Chinese cities, and it is impossible to miss the history that seems to manifest itself along every meter and from every pore of the 6.4-kilometer-long, 12-meter-high city wall built to protect the city, and from the gray bricks and tiles of the many buildings that have survived wars and natural disasters.

The city boasts more than 300 historical sites and 4,000 historical homes, and strict controls are enforced to ensure that everything is kept the way it was in the past.

In the city center you can see a complete government office in feudal China in which the county magistrate lived and dealt with government affairs. Well-preserved items in the complex, which covers more than 26,000 square meters, showcase the way officials used to live and set out the daily routine of a county magistrate.

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