The Ancient City of Pingyao is well-preserved traditional counties as well as an outstanding example of a Han city of the Ming and Qing dynasties (1368-1911). More than 300 sites in or near the city have ancient ruins, with 4,000 preserved Ming-style and Qing-style residences. The streets and storefronts still largely retain their historical appearance.
The City Walls of Pingyao were constructed in the 3rd year of the Hongwu Emperor (1370). The walls have six barbican gates. The north and south sides have one gate each. The east and west sides have two gates each. This pattern is similar to that of a turtle (the head, tail, and four legs), earning Pingyao the moniker of "Turtle City." The walls measure about 12 meters high, with a perimeter of 6,000 meters. Aside from the four structured towers at the four corners, there are also 72 watchtowers and more than 3,000 battlements. It is in fact the best-preserved ancient city wall in China. In the downtown, with the County Administrative Building as its center, four major streets, eight small streets and 72 lanes form a large pattern of the Eight Diagrams.
Pingyao has a well-preserved County Government Office. This County Government Office consists of an archway, ceremonial gate, various offices, a prison (including a collection of ancient handcuffs and chains used to secure prisoners), a court, meeting rooms, a residential area, and a garden. There are altogether 300 rooms in the complex. Interestingly, the county government continued to operate from this location until 1997, when it was moved to new facilities outside the city walls.
The Rishengchang Exchange Shop is located on the West Street in Pingyao City. At that time it had over 35 branches in China's major cities. Pingyao was the financial center of China in the late Qing Dynasty. During those times, there were 20 financial institutions in Pingyao, comprising more than half of the total number in the whole country. And "Rishengchang" in Pingyao was considered to be the first bank in China. It has great value in exploring the development of Chinese financial history.