Way back when, in our first excursion out to Shanxi, we had the opportunity to visit the ancient walled city of Pingyao
Pingyao was fascinating. As you can see from the video, the walls are classic stone fortifications, backed by a thick layer of earth. Inside, most, if not all structures are also stone. And yet modern society still was able to penetrate the stone, as bicycles, cars, electricity, and other amenities were readily available. In fact, while we were there some roads were being dug up to allow some sort of pipeline to be placed underneath.
The city is also home to one of the first banks in China. As transporting loads of valuable material was risky, a man at Pingyao offered to store silver in a secure location, and would issue notes indicating how much silver was placed in his care. Thus, merchants gave and took silver in exchange for these notes and the safety of their goods.
Also located in the city is the old court. The court held the judge’s residence, the jails, an armory, torture chambers (we got to see some graphic pictures of a few of the torture methods used in the court. Joy.), and a temple.
The city was beautiful, a mixture of old and new. It was also very educational for the same reason; we were able to learn much about China’s development of economic practices and judicial systems. They also had some wonderful street food. Mmmmm.