On our way back from Xigubao 西古堡, we stopped by Yuxian Old Town 蔚县古城. We only had time to see two ancient monuments yet both are quite splendid.
Yuhuangge Temple 玉皇阁 is a magnificent wooden structure that has been oiled rather than lacquered to survive more than 600 years. I loved the weathered wood’s earthy look in this double-decked, triple-eaved beauty.
Built in 1377, the temple honours the Jade Emperor, a Supreme Deity of Taoism. But the interior ornamentation is even more fascinating, for the temple walls are adorned with stylistic Ming dynasty frescoes dedicated to various gods. It was dark inside, but when our eyes slowly adjusted to the light, we were in awe. The workmanship is refined and the colours still so vivid that we could hardly believe our good fortune to have stumbled across two temples with Ming murals in as many days.
It was hard to drag ourselves away but we then hurried across town to see Nan An pagoda 南安寺塔, before the heavens unloaded. It’s tucked away in an unpaved backstreet, in the south-west corner, near the old city wall.
This elegant Liao Dynasty (907–1125) pagoda is even older than the temple, yet remains in remarkable condition. And on a drizzly grey summer’s day we had both beautiful sites completely all to ourselves.
(Yuxian is about 200kms west of Beijing and a magnificent drive through the mountains)