Pingyao Ancient Town, in the middle of Shanxi Province, is the best-preserved among the four ancient towns in China. It is the assembly place of folk houses in north China where rows upon rows of buildings in the Ming and Qing Dynasties stand in well-preserved conditions. The earliest bank in China, Piaohao (a firm for exchange and transfer of money) was born here. During the fairly long period of late 19th century and early 20th century, merchants from Shanxi Province nearly dominated all finance in China. While playing an outstanding role in business circles, they painstakingly built the eye-catching courtyards one after another, thus came into being the typical house culture of Shanxi. On December 3, 1997, the town, with over 2700-year history-Pingyao was formally added to the list of World Heritage by the UN. Pingyao Ancient Town is famous for the ancient wall, built in 1370. It is 3-6 meters wide across the top, 9-12 meters wide at the bottom, 10 meters in height and more than 6 kilometers in length.
The wall body was first built of earth, rammed layer upon layer and then covered by bricks and stones outside. The wall pattern was planned according to this policy: to suit measures to local conditions and make use of dangerous positions in order to control the fortress. The walls in the east, west and north are vertical and the south wall winds with the Zhongdu River. Pingyao is also called the Turtle City--long-living and as solid as a rock. The outer wall stands with 3000 crenels and 72 ramparts. The number 3,000 stands for Confucian’s 3000 followers while the number 72 stands for the 72 worthies.