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Wang's Compound

There is a popular saying goes: It is not necessary for you to see other compounds when returning from Wang's. Wang's Compound, reputed to be the 'First Compound of Chinese Local Houses', is the largest well-preserved compound among the local houses of Shanxi Province. It represents the highest achievement of all the famous compounds of the Jin (short name of Shanxi) merchants.

The compound is located in the historically and culturally important Jingsheng Town, in the Lingshi County of Shanxi, about 35 km. (22 miles) away from Pingyao. It was built by one of the four well-known families of Lingshi; Wang, during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), which was originally a lower tenant family in the capital, Taiyuan City, and which then moved to Jingsheng and became rich through business. In the mid period of the Qing Dynasty, the family was very powerful, with a great deal of influence in politics, business and farming lands. With its decline from the late Qing Dynasty, the family gradually split and dispersed.

The Wang's Compound, which was rebuilt many times in the early half of the Qing Dynasty, covers a total area of about 150, 000 square meters (37 acres), of which 45,000 square meters (11 acres) is listed as provincial protection sites. The parts of the compound open to the public include three castles: Gaojia Ya, Hongmen Bao and Chongning Bao, along with the Wang's Ancestral Hall.

Gaojia Ya is the eastern castle of the compound, built in the early years of Emperor Jiaqing (who reigned from 1796-1820). It was built upon a mountain in the shape of a phoenix, and consists of three parts: the central portion is two main courtyards and a northern backyard; in the northeast and the southwest are another two courtyards, with four gates on all sides. The main courtyards are composed of three paralleled Si He Yuan (traditional residential places with houses around a courtyard). The northern backyard is composed of a line of 13 caves divided into four courtyards. And in the southeastern courtyard are two gardens. Courtyards and gates are enclosed within each other, forming a real labyrinth. There are all together 35 courtyards and 342 rooms here. The heirlooms of Wang's are displayed almost in their original places. The brick, stone and wood sculptures in these rooms are especially worth appreciating.

Hongmen Bao is located in the west, separated from Gaojia Ya by a ditch. The castle has only one gate painted red, hence the name Hongmen Bao (Red Gate Castle). It was built during the reign of Emperor Qianlong (who reigned from 1735-1796), with 88 courtyards and 776 rooms. Divided into several parts by a vertical street and three alleys, the whole structure looks like the Chinese character ' 王 (Wang)' from above and also implies the shape of a dragon. The Wang's Museum near the northeast, as the only cultural museum of Wang's, is a singular source for researching the Wang Family.

Chongning Bao was built generally like Hongmen Bao and implies the shape of a tiger. The castle encloses the Li Qun Art Gallery, which displays all the works of the famous contemporary artist Li Qun, a native of Lingshi County.

Wang's Ancestral Hall is divided into two storeys. The upstairs is a shrine hall and a stage for operas; the downstairs displays some models and statues of Wang's ancestors. Since its opening, many descendants of Wang's have come here to worship.

For the distinctive architecture styles and valuable treasures it stores, the Wang's Compound is always reputed as the 'Chinese Civilian Forbidden City' and selected as the scene for movies and television. It is sure to draw the attention of more and more visitors from home and abroad.

 Travel Tips
Wang's Compound is only about 140 km. (87 miles) away from Taiyuan, and can be reached directly from there by coach. You can also take a train to Jiexiu City or Lingshi County and then get to the Compound by bus.

Admission Fee
CNY 66
Opening Hours
8:00 a.m. – 19:30 (Summer)
8:00 a.m. – 18:00 (Winter)