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The Hanging Monastery, Datong —3 Faiths, 1,500 years old!

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.

The Hanging Monastery's construction is amazing.

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!

It was constructed without the help of pillars.

The Hanging MonasteryThe Hanging Monastery

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 is made up of two pavilions and a bridge

The Hanging Monastery The Hanging Monastery

The Hanging Monastery consists of two pavilions, a bridge, and 40 halls. It’s 32 meters long in total.

  • The South Pavilion is three-story, 8 meters (26 ft) long and 4 meters wide. This pavilion holds the biggest hall and the tallest sculptures of the temple.
  • The North Pavilion is also three-story, 4 meters in width, but 7 meters (23 ft) in length. Inside this pavilion a typical hall on the third floor holds statues of the three Chinese traditional religious founders:Confuciuson the left, Lao-Tzeon the right, and Sakyamuni in the center.
  • The Long Bridge, connecting the two pavilions, is about 10 meters (30 ft). There is a pavilion above the bridge with a hall for worshiping statues.

The Hanging Monastery enshrines a combination of three traditional Chinese religions.

Taoist statues in the Hanging MonasteryTaoist statues in the Hanging Monastery

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.

Tips for Your Visit

  • Be careful when walking on the bridge.The monastery is reached via a bridge that leads up a stone staircase that has been chiseled into the cliff face.
  • We advise not visiting when it’s raining. If continued rain causes (risk of) large rock falls, the Hanging Temple will be "under maintenance", and it is not suggested to visit.
the Hanging MonasteryThe Hanging Monastery

How to Plan Your Visit

  • Entry: 130 yuan per person
  • Open: summer 8:00–18:00; winter 8:30–17:30
  • Location: 65 km (40 mi) southeast of Datong City,1½ hours by car, 10 minutes from the Mount Heng entrance

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