Less than two hours from Chengdu in Southwestern China is the 2,000 year-old riverfront village of Pingle. Long ago it was a first stop on the fabled Southern Silk Road that stretched for five thousand miles from Chengdu to the Mediterranean. Come along and join my Chengdu based friend Mavis Liu Mei and Tiffiny Shi Shi as we explore Pingle Ancient Town.
There are no cars in Pingle. The alleys and lanes are so narrow that cars wouldn’t fit anyway and they could never clamber up the stone steps of the river bridge as well.
A majority of the structures date from the Ming through Qing Dynasties. Most are two stories with shops on first floor with residences above
A centerpiece of Pingle is the Leshan stone bridge spanning the Baimo River. 2,000 years ago the river was the arterial of commerce that brought the Silk Road route through Pingle.
The new bridge, the largest stone bridge in Sichuan Province, constructed in 1861, gently arches 50 feet above the river with sampans and riverboats tied at anchor below.
The town elders had the foresight to preserve the historic culture and architecture of 2,000 year-old Pingle through concerted promotion of cultural tourism.
The net result is a viable compromise—tourist and visitor-serving gift shops are melded in to the fabric of ancient alleyways and cobblestone lanes.
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