Pingyao is a small town in central Shanxi Province into whose history goes back 2700 years，when it was first built during the reign of King Xuan(827-782BC)of the Western Zhou Dynasty. Since the“Province and County System" by Emperor Qin in 221 BC，the city has been the county seat in all the times. Despite so many events or incidents, it survived practically as it was in the 600 years or more since Ming and Cling dynasties，and ranks as the only intact ancient city of Ming and Cling dynasties well preserved in China.
The city wall stretches for about six kilometers.The town is protected by a city moat，both three meters deep and wide. Outside the city is a drawbridge.Witnin the city，four big streets and eight small streets radiate to join with 72 lanes.
Preserved in the ancient city are near 4000 traditional quadrangle residences of common people，over 400 of which are fairly intact， in addition to the few even more cherished houses of Ming Dynasty and those rare proto-types of Yuan Dynasty. These shelters are typical of northern China and Shanxi province，specifically with the following features:1.Perfect combination of cave dwelling and quadrangle courtyard; 2. Rectangle layout with an enclosed but elaborate space; 3.Mostly shed or flat roofed;4. Grand courtyard as a whole but elegant inside;5.Carefully observing Chinese geomancy as well as other customs.
So many ancient houses，city walls，streets，lanes as well as other cultural sites of Ming and Qing Dynasties are so perfectly preserved in Pingyao City that it is really the only prototype found in areas of Han people in China.
In 1986，State Council announced the city as a state city of history and culture，and in December of 1997 UNESCO inscribed it on“World Heritage List" with their consideration that“The Ancient City of Ping Yao is an outstanding example of a Han Chinese city of the Ming and Qing Dynasties(14th一20th centuries)that has retained all its features to an exceptional degree and in doing so provides a remarkably complete picture of cultural，social，economic，and religious development during one of the most seminal periods of Chinese history.”