Geographic & Historic Maps on Datong City, Great Wall of China, nearby Gobi Desert Satellite Image including the position of Datong and Buddhist Holy Mountain Area of Wu Tai Shan, North Shanxi Province.
This page was last updated on: June 5, 2017
The Datong Report
Introduction to Datong
Datong Landmarks & Monuments
Datong City& Area Maps
Datong is a small provincial city in the North of North-China's Shanxi Province with a Long History. Founded no less than 2000+ years Ago during the Han Dynasty and not very long after the founding of China as a unified State, the city first originated as PingCheng, a stronghold and garrison City, located on China's Northern Frontier nearby a pass on the Great Wall of China, the pass to Inner Mongolia. Buried in the safety behind the newly built and connected Great Wall, the city was allowed to develop further and became a flourishing
trading post, market and stop-off point on the Silk- (and Tea-) Road. Much later,
during a decline of China's Central Powers, North-China was unified under the
flag of the turkmenic Toba Tribes. The resulting 5Th Century Northern Wei
Dynasty (364AD - 584 AD), chose Datong as their Capital of North China.
During this period, the small city grew immensely in importance and became
a flourishing city on the Silk Road along which Buddhist influences were
carried into China (and beyond). As a result the nearby Yungang village
(west of Datong) with its Caves became an important Buddhist site and
Monastery, growing slowly into a multitude of Caves with thousands of smaller
and larger Buddha images and Statues locally known as Cloud Ridge Caves.
was constructed at Datong. As such Datong had once more become an imperial city and became an even more essential stronghold in the defenses of the Northern Border. In the following 2 centuries Datong would repeatedly be at the center of Battle, as Mongols were probing defenses in the North. During one such Mongol excursion the outer layer of the Great Wall in North Shanxi was penetrated by a 50.000 strong Mongol army and Datong was occupied. Furthermore, in the ensuing Battle for control of the City and the Northern Border an amassed Chinese army was clumsily defeated and the chinese Yingzong Emperor was captured. He was held hostage by the Mongols for 6 years after which he was able to return to his Throne.
Yungang Grottoes - or Cloud Ridge Caves, the Official Electronic Ticket to the United Nations World Heritage Site.
The Ticket to the Main Shrine Hall of Lower HuaYan Monastery inside Datong City.
The Ticket to Upper HuaYan Monastery adjacent the Lower HuaYan Monastery.
"North China Front"
( available from our Online Store )
Read the inside story of the World War II Battle for North-China, a travel diary and journalistic masterpiece by James Bertram, one of the few that travelled with the communist armies in their earliest hours on the world stage.
Scene from the Old Inner City of Datong, with a view of (restored) traditional buildings, unpaved Hutong and Drum Tower in the far distance.
Mu Ta Pagoda, one of the last remaining wooden Pagodas. Only 65 Km from Datong.
Yungang International Hotel - Great 4 star-service on stonesthrow of all city sites !
The Cliff-hanging Monastery of HunYuan Village near Datong.
A Satellite image of China and East-Asia, with a super-imposed schematic Map of the location and Path of the Great Wall as constructed during the Reign ofthe Ming Dynasty. Included for reference are City names, geographical features
of landscape, Names and locations of Passes on the Great Wall on the Great Wall of China.
Please browse around the City of Datong and wider Area using our Geographic & Historic Maps. Find out more about the City and Area through our many Photographic Reports on the main historic landmarks and Monuments and their rich history.
A Full listing of Datong City Landmarks, Monuments, Hotspots and other sites of importance in alphabetical order. Search through the list to find your Full Report and Photo-Virtual Tour of each monument or landmark within the City, or find Yungang 1000 buddha Caves, Hunyuan Hanging Monastery or other Monuments of the Area surrounding Datong.
Recently Datong constructed its own Airport, making it easy to save time and effort and reach the remote City by Air. Flights connect to Taiyuan, the provincial Capital of Shanxi Province as well as to Beijing.
Find Datong Dongwangzhuang Airport just west of the Old City District at some 10 minutes driving distance.
The Main and only Railway Station of Datong City, located inside the Northern "New" City of Datong and some distance away from Datong's Old City and historical monuments. As the arrival point for many, the Main Station is home to a number of essentail Services and the local CITS Office and Service.
nearby Great Wall of China at YanMenGuan Pass, the 11 Century Mu Ta Pagoda near Yingxian, one of the oldest wooden buildings in the world, and the Holy Mountain Area of Wu Tai Shan (3382 Meters), revered since the days of the 1st (Ch'In) Emperor and littered with some of the most historic buildings in North China including several wooden Pagoda's and no Less than 8 monasteries. Datong is also known as the Northern Gateway to the Roof of North China, the Wu Tai Shan Mountain Area.
During the Japanese Invasion and occupation, first of Manchuria, and following of China entire, Datong became a strategic point in the Japanese advance from Beijing (Hebei) west-wards. Located on the only railway line into Northern Shanxi and located at the pass to Inner Mongolia (where japanese sponsored skirmishes had already occured with Mongolian "rebels"), Datong became a main focal point of military action. Japanese attempts to penetrate West from the Coast inward via Datong and TaiYuan, both railway hubs, were met by inadequate forces from the National KuoMinTang Army and by the much more efficient guerilla forces of the early chinese communist Party and its legendary 8Th Route Army, who had just arrived in North-China from their "Long March". In the initial fases a battle was fought at the Great Wall Pass at Datong delaying the Japanese advance considerably (as was the case at TaiYuan). Not much later (after 1938) the area of Datong, and all of Shanxi Province were occupied by Japanese Forces, who were however continually harrassed by Chinese guerilla's from local villages (and the 8Th route army operating from Yenan, Shaanxi south and across the Yellow River). Japanese Forces were concentrated along railroads in an attempt to protect supply lines and Datong was an important garrison city and essential for the occupation of all of China. The country-side of Shanxi was mainly communist-controlled by the end of 1938. After the second world war and the establishment of the Peoples Republic of China in 1949 AD Datong was once again forgotten and only grew as one of the industrial centers of the North.
Today's Datong, locally also known as Mei Du, the Coal Capital, is a mainly industrial city counting around 270.000
inhabitants working in the (Coal) mining and related industries. There is a large coal fired powerplant on the suburbs
of Datong and the city is home to a pharmaceutical company and a normal university.
Datong is the second largest City in Shanxi Province after the Capital TaiYuan. Due to the Coal Industry it is also one
of China's Most Polluted Cities, the sky turning gray with soot on most days. Datong is still home to a military
Garrison and Academy attracting many recruits from all over North China.
The Cities main attractions are HuaYuan Monastery, the unique 9 Dragon Screen and
mainly - nearby Yungang Grottoes (Yungang Shi'Ku), a United Nations World Cultural
Later during the Ming Dynasty, in 1540 AD and 1550 AD respectivily, Datong, the stronghold on the North Shanxi defenses on the Great Wall of China, was again at the Center of battle between the Northern invaders and the Chinese Armies. Now protected by high mud-brick defensive Walls, the City survived through relatively unscathed.
The city was never again fell to the Mongol hordes, until a period of weak defenses fell in with the collapse of the Ming Dynasty. In 1649 AD Only 5 years after the establishment of new Qing Dynasty Datong, the massively fortified border city was sacked and nearly raised to the ground. The City and Palace were destroyed, leaving the Datong 9 Dragon Screen as one of the few remaining structures. However, as an important outpost and strategic strongpoint the City Fortress was immediatly rebuilt (1652 AD) by the newly established Qing Dynasty (Shu Tzi reign period).
Only after the introduction of trains and railroads in China during the last throws of the Qing Dynasty and the connection of Datong to China's railway system (Ping-Shui R.R.), the position of the city changed once more. Datong grew in size and became an industrial city and transportation hub of raw materials (Coal mainly) and machinery.