Nanchan Temple is located 22 kilometers southwest of Wutai County. A prayer hall that has been preserved in the temple is considered the oldest existing wooden structure in China dating from the Tang Dynasty.
The original construction time of Nanchan Temple is unknown. It was rebuilt in the 3rd year of Dezong Jianzhong (AD 782) of the Tang Dynasty, more than 1200 years ago. Its main hall is the earliest preserved wooden-structured building, built in the Tang Dynasty. The sculptures of the Tang Dynasty are masterpieces, and have significant historical and artistic value.
The temple faces south, and covers an area of 3078 square meters. It is a preserved location of national historical and cultural relics. The monastery includes a gate, Hall of the Dragon King (Longwangdian), Hall of Great Buddha (Dafodian), Hall of Bodhisattva (Pusadian), and other fine examples of ancient timber construction. On display at the temple are lifelike color sculptures comparable in style to those in Dunhuang Mogao Grottoes in China' northwestern province of Gausu.
The Main Hall of the Nanchan Temple is the oldest wooden structure in China. The hall is three-bay in both width and length. The planar shape is near square. The layout of the structure is in symmetry. It is a typical structure style of the Tang Dynasty.
There is a big Buddha altar, 8.4 meters in length and 6.3 meters in width, in the Main Hall of the Nanchan Temple. Seventeen multicolor statues of the Tang Dynasty besprinkle the altar, and the main statue of them is Sakyamuni sitting cross-legged in Sumeru. The others line in both sides. In spite of repairs and repainting in the following dynasties, the statues still retain the style and features of Tang statues.