Wooden Pagoda

Wooden Pagoda in Yingxian County, Datong attractions, Datong Travel GuideThe real name of the Wooden Pagoda in Yingxian County, located in Fogong (Buddha's Palace) Temple in the northwestern corner of the county town of Yingxian, is Sakyamuni Pagoda. Since it was built completely of timber, it has been known popularly as the Wooden Pagoda of Yingxian County. It is the oldest wooden structure extant today in China, and also the tallest among ancient wooden buildings of the world. The pagoda was constructed in 1056 during the Liao Dynasty. The Wooden Pagoda stands nearly 70 meters tall is 30-meters in diameter and weighs over 300 tons. Made up of at least 3,500 cubic meters of wood, the pagoda is octagonal in shape and contains nine floors, with four built-in stories not apparent from the outside. Built without the use of nails, the entire structure is solid, imposing, and elegant.

Although built entirely with timber, the pagoda has weathered over 900 years of wind and storm, withstood numerous strong earthquakes and wars. It's been recorded that there had been a strong earthquake measuring 6.5 degrees on the Richter scale 300 years after the pagoda was built. All the buildings around collapsed but the quake merely shook out some shingles from the pagoda's eaves. During the fights between warlords in the early 20th century, the Wooden Pagoda was hit by nearly 200 bombs, but it remained intact. All this is thanks to its unique structure. The pagoda's multi-storey structure has given it the kind of stability resembling those in modern buildings. It wood texture is very soft, which won't easily twist under outside pressure. The many layers also reinforce the pagoda.

The Hall in Wooden Pagoda, Datong attractions, Datong Travel GuideSince the founding of New China in 1949 the government has dispatched many survey groups to look after the pagoda and great efforts have been made to repair and reinforce the structure. During a repair project in 1974 a number of important and valuable cultural relics were found in the pagoda, including a picture of medicinal herbs and Buddhist scriptures, all belonging to the Liao Dynasty. Scripture scrolls include both hand-written and block-printed ones; some of them are more than thirty meters long when spread out and date back to as early as 990, 1003 or 1071. They are regarded as rare treasures both at home and abroad and provide important data not only for the collating of Buddhist scriptures but also for research of the development of printing technology and cultural exchange between different nationalities in China.

The temple is also extolled as an outstanding example of Chinese architecture, interior design and art.