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Qiao Family Compound (Qiao Jia Da Yuan)

The Qiao Family Compound is massive and castle-like, covering about two acres. It is the former residence of Qiao Zhiyong, the third-generation commercial tycoon of the Qiao family in Shanxi Province. He attained his fortune by running banks, pawnshops and teahouses. It was under Qiao Zhiyong that the family saw its "golden age." The Compound is 60 kilometers(37.3 miles) south of Taiyuan and 20 kilometers(12.4 miles) north of Pingyao. The ornate Qiao Family Compound was built in 1756 during the Qing Dynasty(1644-1911). In 1991, a film directed by Chinese Famous filmmaker Mr.Zhang Yimou, named Raise The Red Lantern, was shot here, making Qiao's compound well-known by lots of people.

Qiao Family Mansion Qiao Family Mansion
Local-featured houses of Qiao Family Compound Delicate stone carving of Qiao Family Compound

The compound is enclosed by a brick wall more than a dozen meters(38 ft.) tall and consists of 6 large courtyards and 20 smaller courtyards around which 313 rooms are linked together. Within each courtyard are smaller courtyards and gardens. Seen from the outside, it is majestic and strongly fortified. Inside its houses are luxuriously furnished and well laid out with exquisite patterns carved on the doors, windows, stairs, and balustrades.

It is notable that the compound's layout is in the shape of the Chinese character for "double happiness." The architecture employs a vast range of contrasting roof styles which vary from gentle slopes to high peaks which swoop down in elegant curves.

The Compound has been converted into a museum and has period furnishings distributed throughout. Visiting here is like looking through a window into the day-to-day life of upper class Chinese of centuries ago.

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