Subscribe to free Email Newsletter

  Chinese Way>DoYouKnow

Prepare to be amazed at caves

2013-08-07 15:31:05

(China Daily)


The Guyaju, a cliff-dwelling settlement, consists of 350 chambers whittled inside 117 caves. [Photo by Erik Nilsson / China Daily]

There are many theories about the caves bored out in the cliffs of Zhangshanying, reports Erik Nilsson, but they are certainly worth a visit.

While a hole in a wall is undesirable real estate today, it was ideal accommodation for a mysterious people who settled north of Beijing about 1,000 years ago.

No written record mentions the population who bored the caverns of the country's largest cliff-dwelling settlement in today's Zhangshanying town, Yanqing county, about 90 km northwest from the downtown capital.

But they carved in stone a lasting legacy that reveals little except they existed and were erudite at digging and defense, before vanishing into thin air.

One point archeologists agree on is that "China's biggest maze" - as the site is colloquially known - would have been virtually impenetrable.

The 350 chambers whittled inside 117 caves were hacked into the cliff sides in a valley fewer than 10 meters across. They pock a 5-km span.

These perforations in the crag are labyrinthine in arrangement.

Some are connected vertically, while others are linked horizontally and a few are adjoined both ways.

Some are single rooms, while others are clusters. A plexus of stone steps and ladders enable access to the 3-20-square-meter stone chambers.

They still house beds, ovens, tables and feed troughs sculpted into the rock. These ancient engineers also designed ventilation and drainage systems for their hive.

We recommend:

Gods,Art and Ocean LifeGods,Art and Ocean Life Kung Pow Chicken Good news for snacks lovers: 6 snacks to anti cancer
1 2