Mian Shan (绵山 /Myen Shan/ ‘Silky’ Mountain) is noted for its natural scenery, especially for its cultural and religious relics. It is also the birthplace of Qingming Festival (Grave Cleaning Day), which is one of China’s most important traditional festivals and items of intangible cultural heritage.
With a history dating back some 2,500 years ago, Mian Shan boasts enchanting natural scenery and cultural significance. It is a national scenic spot with 14 tourist areas containing about 400 attractions. Besides, there are several restaurants and hotels that were built hanging on the steep cliffs, which provide a unique dining or accommodation experience for travelers. The spectacular scenes and cultural relics at Mian Mountain provide tourists with many activities, such as watching sunset or sunrise at Dragon Head Temple, visiting Daluo Palace (the largest Taoist temple in China), walking on Sky Bridge and enjoying the natural beauty of Shuitao Valley.
Dragon Head Temple is the best place to watch sunrise or sunset in a sea of clouds. It is also a landmark of Mian Shan with its exquisite architecture. Daluo Palace is the largest Taoist temple in China. It was built and restored during the Tang Dynasty (618–907), and the supreme spirit of Taoism and other folk gods are worshipped there. Daluo Palace also has the largest Taoist sutra depository over the country. Sky Bridge was built between steep cliffs, 300 meters (328 yards) long and no more than one meter (3.3 feet) wide. It is suspended over 300 meters (980 feet) from the bottom of a valley and over 200 meters (660 feet) from the mountain tops.
Mian Shan is also called Jie Shan (Jie Mountain) after Jie Zhitui (?–636 BC) a loyal defender of the Duke of Jin (697–628 BC). A prince named Chong'er survived and escaped the fight, and began his 19-year exile with his followers. One day, when Prince Chong'er was about to starve to death, a follower named Jie Zhitui secretly cut a piece of flesh from his thigh and cooked it into a meat soup, which saved the prince.
Chong'er wondered where Jie had obtained the soup. When he found out what Jie had done, the prince was so moved that he promised to reward him one day. Nineteen years later, Prince Chong'er returned to his kingdom and took power as Duke Wen of the Jin State, one of the five hegemons of the Spring and Autumn Period.
After taking power, Duke Wen greatly awarded and honored all of his followers, but he forgot Jie Zhitui, the man who once saved his life. When others spoke of Jie Zhitui, Duke Wen remembered him and was ashamed. He immediately sent his servants to invite Jie Zhitui and conferred him with a title. However, Jie Zhitui refused resolutely because he was not the type of person who sought rewards. Instead, he just wanted to help the prince return to Jin to become a duke.
Then, the duke decided to come personally but before he arrived, Jie Zhitui heard the news and hid on a nearby mountain with his aged mother. Jie Zhitui refused to see the prince, and no one could find him in his hiding spot on the mountain.Duke Wen ordered to set the mountain on fire to force Jie Zhitui out of hiding.
Three days and nights later, the duke and his people found two dead bodies; that of Jie Zhitui and his mother, in a cave under a willow tree on the mountain. In honor of Jie Zhitui, a man who never sought fame and profit, Duke Wen buried him and his mother respectfully, held a memorial ceremony for the tomb, and ordered his subjects to use no fire and eat cold food on that day. The mountain is now called "Mianshan Mountain" (check out Pingyao Classic Tour with Mianshan Combo).
The next year, Duke Wen climbed the mountain to commemorate Jie Zhitui. When arriving at the tomb, he saw the burnt willow tree revived with lush leaves and branches and remembered Jie Zhitui's noble character. He was so moved that he swept the tomb and declared the festival as Qingming Festival. Later, Duke Wen built an honest, diligent, pragmatic, and efficient government during his reign. Learn more about Qingming Festival.
Mian Shan is located in Jiexiu City of central Shanxi Province, central North China, midway between Beijing and Xi’an. It is 40 kilometers (25 miles) south of Pingyao, 137 kilometers (85 miles) south of Taiyuan, or 440 kilometers (274 miles) south of Datong.
Mian Shan car park is about 25 km (16 miles) by road south of Jiexiu Railway Station.