Qiao Family Courtyard

This is the best-known of Shanxi's merchant-family mansions (dayuan, or "grand courtyards"), and where Zhang Yimou's Raise the Red Lantern was filmed. Almost midway between Taiyuan and Pingyao, it is easily reached from either city.

Containing six large courtyards and 313 houses, the compound was constructed in 1755 by Qiao Guifa, the first member of the family to strike it rich selling tea and bean curd in Baotou, beyond the Great Wall. Returning to his hometown, he built his dream home, to which successive generations added until it reached its present size. Give yourself at least 2 hours.

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