The Seven Wonders of China: Part 2/5

2. Hanging Monastery

Another popular tourist site is the fifteen-hundred year old wooden Hanging Monastery. The monastery is suspended fifteen stories above the valley floor on the side of a sheer cliff.  It is a mystery why the monastery was built there and why.

One reason might be the floods that once plagued the valley. Today, a dam controls the water. The monastery was built in an indentation in the cliff below an overhand.

What cannot be seen from the valley floor is the Hanging Monastery was built into the cliff’s face. More than forty caves and rooms were dug into the rock. This process allowed supports to be built into the cliff.  The thin wooden pillars are only there for decoration and were added in the last century.

3. The Great Wall

One of the world’s greatest treasures is the almost four-thousand mile Great Wall that took two-thousand years to complete.

The early great wall was made of layers of pressed earth and straw. The Qin Dynasty completed the first wall. The Han Dynasty extended the wall toward Mongolia. The Ming Dynasty built the wall stronger of stone and mortar. The Chinese used smoke and fire to send messages over long distances to warn of enemy attacks.

Continued on February 13, 2013 in The Seven Wonders of China: Part 3 or return to Part 1


Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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6 Responses to The Seven Wonders of China: Part 2/5

  1. merlin says:

    Is there a place that depicts the different eras of the great wall?

    • Actually, yes. I read it in Peter Hessler’s memoir of living in China. The book is called “Country Driving.”

      Much of Hessler’s memoir was connected to projects he wrote at The New Yorker or National Geographic. The memoir is divided into three sections: Book I, The Wall; Book II, The Village, and Book III, The Factory.

      In the first 122 pages of “Country Driving”, Peter Hessler sets out to drive the entire length of the Great Wall in a rented Chinese made Jeep Cherokee and he achieves his goal. In this section, I learned that the Wall was successful most of the time and not the failure many historians—mostly in the West—claim it was. Yes, in several thousand years, the wall failed a few times but it served its purpose and did protect China’s heartland for centuries. Hessler says that there is no archaeologist in the world that has studied the history of the Great Wall but wrote there are amateur experts (we meet a few in this section along with a unique view of rural China) that have proven through historical research that the wall did work.

  2. how strange that they think putting up those very flimsy looking wood supports would make those who are timid feel there is good support. to me they look too flimsy. if i were a tourist and go close and see how unsupported those wooden poles are , i would be damn scared. haha. or suspect that the support is elsewhere. i think it would look more dramatic without those wooden poles. it would look like the buildings are suspended in midair. u cannot help but marvel at the skill used in building it. the video is very informative. letting us know why it was built there in the first place.

    • I think those flimsy looking poles were added more recently. The Hanging Monastery has been there for fifteen-hundred years and that says a lot about the original construction. And I’m sure there have been repairs through the centuries. The main supports look more substantial and probably are timbers or reinforced concrete that go into a hole in the solid rock of the cliff using a similar support methods that we see used for the modern cliff clinging walkways in this post:

      I imagine through the centuries as the original supports aged, if they were wood, they were slid out and replaced with new supports. Sort of like a tooth in its socket.

    • Mel says:

      It would be nice to know where the Hanging Monastery is located

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