How to Visit Wang Family Courtyard

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Plan your Pingyao tour? One day side trip to Wang Family Courtyard and Zhangbi Village is high recommended. Wang Family Courtyard in Shanxi is actually not a “courtyard”, it is a cluster of courtyards or castles. The huge Wang family compound used to have five castles, five lanes and five ancestral temples with an area of 250,000 square meters, much larger than the 150,000 square-meter Forbidden City in Beijing and Qiao Family Coutyard.

At the time ofmy writing, only three huge complexes of Wang’s grand courtyard are open to the public after restoration and renovation – Gaojiaya Castle, Red Gate Fort and Wang Clan Ancestral Temple. The three complexes accommodate 123 courtyards, 1118 rooms with an area of 45,000 square meters, the well preserved part of the quintessence of Chinese architectural art in Wang Family Courtyard, which took took about half a century (1762-1811) to build.

With a history of over 680 years, the Wangs have lived on for 27 generations throughout all the ups and downs. The Wang family had their heyday in the period of Qing Dynasty from 1661 to 1820. In the eighteenth century (in  the reign of Daoguang), Wang’s family gradually declined. In 1996 the last generation of the Wangs moved out of their age-old residence and the Grand Courtyard was opened to the public in 1997. This largest-existing folk residence cluster sits on the slopes of the hills. Layers of gardens and courtyard houses on different heights of the hills give the compound more levels and the hill more lively and glamour.

The courtyard style began in the Western Zhou Dynasty (1100BC-771BC), with the halls in the front, the gardens and bedrooms at the back. The Gao Jia Ya and Red-Gate Castle have numerous courtyards and roomd built in the light of the Chinese traditional courtyard architecture.

Beside its exquisite courtyard architecture, Wang family grand compound boasts delicate and ornate brick, wood and stone carvings. Carving works can be seen almost anywhere in the compoud of the Wangs and each piece of the work is fine and ingenious. As an important part of the courtyard’s architecture art, the carvings demonstrate the artistic level of the time.

Wang Family Courtyard Travel Tips:

Open hours: 08:00 – 19:30 ( summer ); 08:00- 18:00 Open all year

Entrance Fee: RMB 66

Two diret buses go from Pingyao Bus Station starting 8:50am and 1.10pm for Wang Family Courtyard and returning at 12:40pm and 4:00pm from Wang Family Courtyard. Or you may first go to Jiexiu from Pingyao, then connect the local buses from Jiexiu to Wang Family Courtyard. A taxi rental costs about RMB 300 from and to Pingyao.

Well, please follow me to have a glimpse of the huge compound. For the normal travel rout, people would first visit the east compound of Gao Jia Ya, then move along the bridge to the west castle of Red Gate Castle, finally to the Ancestral Temple of Wang’s Clan.

This is the east gate to the Gao Jia Ya Castle. Two large red lanterns hung over from the gate tower and two smaller ones from the upturned eaves.

This is the east gate to the Gao Jia Ya Castle.

This is the east gate to the Gao Jia Ya Castle.

 

Rows of courtyard houses are laid out symmetrically. The courtyards were built under the principle conforming to social institutions and practicality.

Rows of courtyard houses are laid out symmetrically

Rows of courtyard houses are laid out symmetrically

A typical Chinese courtyard building with fine and exquisite wood and stone carvings.

A typical Chinese courtyard building with fine and exquisite wood and stone carvings.

A typical Chinese courtyard building with fine and exquisite wood and stone carvings.

A exquisite frame window, a horizontal wood inscribed board with a Chinese character “Double Happiness )

A exquisite frame window, a horizontal wood inscribed board with a Chinese character Double Happiness

A exquisite frame window, a horizontal wood inscribed board with a Chinese character Double Happiness

Stone piers at the door.

Stone piers at the door,

Stone piers at the door,

The courtyard style began in the Western Zhou Dynasty (1100BC-771BC), with the halls in the front, the gardens and bedrooms at the back

 

the halls in the front, and bedrooms at the back

the halls in the front, and bedrooms at the back

A bridge connects Gaojia and Red Gate Castle

A bridge connects Gaojia and Red Gate Castle

A bridge connects Gaojia and Red Gate Castle

The Red Gate Castle is circled by a high city wall, comparable to the Great Wall in height and width.

The Red Gate Castle is circled by a high city wall, comparable to the Great Wall in height and width.

The Red Gate Castle is circled by a high city wall, comparable to the Great Wall in height and width.

This is a  labyrinth-like castle with numerous courtyard houses and lanes.

This is a  labyrinth-like castle with numerous courtyard houses and lanes.

This is a labyrinth-like castle with numerous courtyard houses and lanes.

Rows of courtyard houses cascade from the hills.

Rows of courtyard houses cascade from the hills.

Rows of courtyard houses cascade from the hills.

A screen wall stone carvings

A screen wall stone carvings

A screen wall stone carvings

 

A wooden bracket suppots the roof without nails.

 

A wooden bracket suppots the roof without nails

A wooden bracket suppots the roof without nails

The two flying eaves are in the form of dragon-heads.

The two flying eaves are in the form of dragon-heads.

The two flying eaves are in the form of dragon-heads.

A stone frame window

 

A frame window

A frame window

 

 

a cluster of Mythical figure tiles

a cluster of Mythical figure tiles

Walking on the city wall to have a bird-eye view of the courtyard houses.

Walking on the city wall to have a bird-eye view of the courtyard houses.

Walking on the city wall to have a bird-eye view of the courtyard houses.

 

From the wall, you can also have a glimpse of the cave dwelling

From the wall, you can also have a glimpse of the cave dwelling

Any questions, just drop a line.

 

 

The south gate to the Red Gate Castle

The south gate to the Red Gate Castle

 

 

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