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This unique monastery hangs 50 meters above the ground on the cliff side of Mount Heng (Heng Shan), one of China’s Five Sacred Taoist Mountains.
The Hanging Monastery was built 1,500 years ago, in the Northern Wei Dynasty(386–557). This Taoist, Buddhist, and Confucian temple is Mount Heng's principal attraction.
Datong’s Hanging Monastery appears to be on stilts, half way up the mountain, but they were actually created by abseiling from the top of the cliff, and building it downwards!
Suspended some 50 meters (160 feet) above the ground the Hanging Monastery was actually constructed without the help of the wooden pillars that now appear to support it.
When the monastery was built the pillars weren't here, but they were added later, because many people wouldn't dare to climb up to the monastery, worrying it would fall! The pillars can even be taken away without affecting the Hanging Monastery.
Thanks to the excellent workmanship and building technique, the monastery has been very safe for 1,500 years, without any pillars.
The Hanging Monastery consists of two pavilions, a bridge, and 40 halls. It’s 32 meters long in total.
The Hanging Monastery is the only monastery in China enshrining three religions— Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism.The temple boasts a fine collection of religious statues —80 in all —including statues in bronze, iron, terracotta, and stone, all are remarkably true-to-life.
The most outstanding feature of the Hanging Monastery is the side-by-side sculptures of Lao-Tzu, Confucius, and Sakyamuni —the founders of the three main religions of China: Taoism, Confucianism, and Buddhism, respectively.
Due to its relatively remote location, the Hanging Monastery served as sort of travel lodge — a rest stop for travelers. Because religion was prevalent at that time, and people were reluctant to stop at places that worshipped a different religion, the Hanging Monastery enshrined China’s three major religions so that more travelers could stay there.
China is a country with a long history of over 3,000 years. There are many cultural relics in China. See our customizable 9-Day China Cultural Relics Classic Tour itinerary for ways to explore China’s past.
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