Datong Public Transport
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: December 23, 2014
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.
                     The Yungang grottoes would remain an important Monastery and Holy Site for
                     ages to come,  equalling Dunhuang (west-China) and the Bamiyan statues
                     of Afghanistan (now destroyed by islamic religious zealots). The Toba left
in 494 AD, moving their Capital to Luoyang, some 600 kilometers to the South on the
Yellow River in Henan Province, carving out a new Maze of Buddhist Caves there
(LongMen Caves or Grottoes dating 493 AD and beyond). During the Tang Dynasty ( 8Th
                     Century ) and beyond Datong remained what it was - an important outpost on the outer
                     ring of the Great Wall of China and a border City on the road to Mongolia.
                     In the year 1048 AD the name PingCheng was discarded and the city was renamed DaTong,
                     meaning "Great Unity.
                     During the 12Th Century the current HuaYan Monastery with its Clay Buddha Statues, unique
                     Carpentry and truely priceless library of Buddhist (and other) scriptures was founded. The
                     Monastery, standing near the heart of the old city inside now dilapidated City Walls, is in use and
                     can still be visited  (for a small fee) today. After its brief Glory during the heydays of the Wei Dynasty
                     of North-China, Datong reverted back to its original status as a frontier-city guarding YanMenGuan
                     Pass on the Great Wall of China. The situation as an outpost remained for a very long time, much
                     owing to the rugged terrain of North Shanxi Province and continuous tribal unrests in the Northern
                     territories through the Centuries.
                     During the earliest reign of the Ming Dynasty, the 13Th Son of the
                     Emperor (Wu Di, Zhu Yuanzhang) was made King of the local fiefdom and a Royal Palace
                     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.
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Yungang Grottoes - or Cloud Ridge Caves, the Official Electronic Ticket to the United Nations World Heritage Site.
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The Ticket to the Main Shrine Hall of Lower HuaYan Monastery inside Datong City.
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The Ticket to Upper HuaYan Monastery adjacent the Lower HuaYan Monastery.
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Read all about the Battle for North China and the communist roots, by James Bertram !
Source Book
"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.
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Mu Ta Pagoda, one of the last remaining wooden Pagodas. Only 65 Km from Datong.
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Yungang International Hotel - Great 4 star-service on stonesthrow of all city sites !
The Cliff-hanging Monastery of HunYuan Village near Datong.
Tadjik
Camel Driver on the Silk Road, China
Tadjik Camel Driver on the Silk Road, China Photographic Print
Su, Keren
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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.
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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.
Not included (yet!) are the Locomotive Museum of Datong, the Buddhist Holy Mountain Area of Wu Tai Shan, The Great Wall of China near Datong and YanMenGuan Pass and the wider area of North Shanxi Province.
Alphabetically ordered list of Monuments, Landmarks and other sites of interest in Datong
The
Simatai Section of the Great Wall Near the Beijing-Hebei Border
The Simatai Section of the Great Wall Near the Beijing-Hebei Border Photographic Print
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.
Main Railroad Station of Datong - Photos and Introduction
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.
Trains leave in the direction of Taiyuan to the south, north to Jining and Hohhot, and east to Beijing.
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.
For More  - Click through to Full Historic Introduction on Datong City
The
Jinshaling Section of the Great Wall at the Beijing-Hebei Border
The Jinshaling Section of the Great Wall at the Beijing-Hebei Border Photographic Print
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Full Google Map of Datong, North Shanxi Province.
This page was last updated on: December 23, 2014
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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
                                                           Heritage Site.
                                                           At some distance from Datong are the famous Hanging Monastery of HunYuan, the
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.
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