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Datong is one of the 24 historical and cultural cities in China. Neighboring Hebei Province to the east and Inner Mongolian to the north, Datong is an important northern transportation hub in China. It is about 380 kilometers (236 miles) away from Beijing and 350 kilometers (217 miles) from the provincial capital city - Taiyuan. The earliest record of inhabitation of the city is during the Paleolithic Period some 10,000 years ago, and inaugurated as the capital of the Northern Wei Dynasty (386 - 534) in 398. It had served as the heart of the country in the successive 100 years until Emperor Xiaowen of the Wei relocated the country's capital to Luoyang in 471. In the later Liao (916 - 1125) and Jin (1115 - 1234) dynasties, it became the alternate capital in the northern part, and considered as the second political and trading center in the country during those periods. A large number of archeological relics from the Liao and Jin periods excavated in the city provide evidence of the splendor and prosperity of the city.
Tourist Highlights
Yungang Caves
Yungang Caves, one of the three major cave clusters in China, is carved into the cliffs of Wuzhou Mountain. It is a treasure trove of Buddhist carvings unrivaled in the world.
Started in 450, Yungang is a relic of the Northern Wei Dynasty (386-534). The caves consist of over 53 grottoes and 50,000 statues that include Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, and flying Apsara. Absorbing Indian Gandhara Buddhist art, Yungang sculptures developed traditional Chinese art melded with social features of the time.

Nine Dragon Screen
The Nine-Dragon Screen in Datong is reputed to be the largest of its kind in China with a long history of over 600 years (The others are to be found in The Forbidden City and Beihai Park in Beijing). Originally built in 1392, it was the screening wall for a prince's mansion during the Ming Dynasty (1368 - 1644). The screen is 45.5 meters long, 8 meters high, and 2 meters thick. It is not only larger than the nine-dragon screen in Beijing's Beihai Park, but three hundred years older.

The Hanging Monastery
The Hanging Monastery is a temple built into a cliff near Mt. Heng, Datong City. Along with Yungang Grottoes, the Hanging Monastery is one of the main tourist attractions and Historical Sites in Shanxi. Built more than 1,500 years ago, this temple is notable not only for its location on a sheer precipice but also because it is the only existing temple with the combination of three Chinese traditional religions: Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism. The monastery is located in the small canyon basin, and the body of the building hangs from the middle of the cliff under the prominent summit, protecting the temple from rain erosion and sunlight.
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