Qingyan Ancient Town, about 29 kilometers (18 miles) in the southern suburb of Guiyang City, is one of the four famous ancient towns in Guizhou Province and is praised as one of the most charming towns in China. It is known for well-planned architectural style, rich cultural relics, and multi-religion. Qingyan is a town full of local color.
With a history of more than 600 years, Qingyan was originally built in 1378 during the Ming Dynasty as a military town. The layout of the town retains the architectural styles of the Ming and Qing dynasties. Now the old town still preserves the city gates, streets and lanes paved with flagstones, stone memorial archways, and ancient wood-structure houses, showing the characteristics of the civilian residences in South China.
“Qingyan” means cyan rock. This beautiful name is exactly a vivid description of Qingyan Ancient Town. Due to the local geology, this town was built completely of stone. Stone enclosing walls, and stone counters, mortars, mills and rollers can be found everywhere in this ancient town, hence the name the “Stone City”. The spectacular city walls were built right on the cliffs with vast rocks, and divided Qingyan into inner and outer towns.
There are four gates in the wall facing north, south, east and west. Inside and outside the four gates, there were originally eight stone tablets, which were considered the symbols of Qingyan Ancient Town. Of the eight, three remain with delicate sculptures on each surface.
Walking inside the inner town, you will surely marvel at the ancient architecture here. There are over 30 types including monasteries, temples, cabinets, caves, courtyards and palaces. All of them were delicately designed by the skillful architects of the Ming and Qing dynasties. Though some of the architectures are out of repair, a number of exquisite articles are all worth a look, such as the stone sculptures in Ciyun Temple and wooden sculptures in Shoufo Temple.
Don’t be surprised if you find out the residents here are Catholic and Christian. Qingyan Ancient Town has ancient Buddhist and Taoist temples, Catholic Church and Christian Church, forming a scenic marvel with the mergence of varied religious cultures, which is rarely seen within China.
In the town there are also some delicious food, such as Qingyan tofu, rice tofu and rose sugar. If you like, stop at one of the tea houses and have a taste of the local snacks.