Ancient Hanging Temple of Mount Hengshan

The ancient Hanging Temple, or the Hanging Monastery, of Mount Hengshan, China is one of the most interesting sites in the country. The temple which is older than 1500 years is built on a cliff 70 meters high above the ground. Through the use of oak crossbeams on certain carved spaces and a main supporting structure hidden behind it, the ancient Hanging Temple has managed to stand still on this cliff. Moreover, the cliff is a little bit lower from the summit which protects the temple from natural erosions such as excessive rain and sunlight. In addition, the temple does not have a straight line, and its height increases as it extends. For example, if a visitor enters from the south gate and makes their way to the north gate, they walk upwards and move to a higher altitude.

Aside from its architectural peculiarity, the ancient Hanging Temple is also unique because it is the only temple dedicated to three different religions at the same time. The Hanging Temple enshrines beliefs and traditions from Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism.

The Hanging Temple consists of two different parts: the Northern and the Southern. In both parts, the members of all three religions can find shrines to pray. The construction of the temple goes back to the final moments of the Northern Wei dynasty. The Wei ruled China for less than 200 years but towards the end of their reign, a monk started to build it. Although the temple had ups and downs, in 1900 the Chinese government renovated it and it acquired its final form.

The temple is also famous for its detailed statues and carvings. Since the temple belongs to different religions, various figures from these religions are visible throughout the temple. Despite being in a fairly remote location, the Hanging Temple is popular among locals and tourists. The Times Magazine named the temple as one of the 10 most unique architectural pieces in the world in 2010.





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