[Datong]City Wall Demolition and Restoration 4: City Wall Restoration Process

City Wall

Datong city wall went through eight years of intensive restoration process.In May 2009, the restoration work started offically. As the East city wall was the most complete part, and the outer ring was commercial center and most of the buildings were public architecture, the restoration work started with it first. Before the restoration, the East city wall’s body as well footing stone part was still extant, and they acted as precious referencse to the coming restoration work. It took six months to inhabilitate the Dongweng cheng, south east and north east turrents, twelve belvedere and two control stations. One thing needs to be noticed is that the Dongweng cheng part restoration adopted reinenforced concrete as the material for better stability. Antother parts were extant rammed earth. 

South city wall was not completely preserved. Fortunately, the Wild Goose Pagoda built in Ming dynasty was well preserved. In 2o10, the restoration project offically started. South city wall includes one Weng cheng(瓮城), one Yue Cheng(月城), two Guan Cheng(关城), west and east turrents and twelve belvederes. Restoration finished at the end of 2011, and comparing to the first restored East city part, the South city wall was more immense and mighty. [1]

In August 2012, West city wall restoration started. As some important buildings including Datong Exhibition Hall, Unicom building and China Mobile building were located inside the West city wall, it took around four years to complete the restoration project. The completion of West city wall marks the period end of the total eight year of city wall restoration project.[2]

Even for the small details, the restoration insists on the authenticity.











(detail of the decoration restoration on the beam. Author:Li Xiaolong.) 

The decoration showing in the above image is called Chui Hua Mu Ba (垂花门拔牵) which exsits within Lion street Residence. It was the restoration work which follows the traditional Datong architecture characteristic. [3]


[1] Li Xiaolong, 2019. “On the Restoration and Utilization of Datong City Wall.”

[2]Li Xiaorui, Zhao Min, 2o18. ” Study on the Restoration and Protection of Datong Ancient City Walls.” Shanxi Datong Liberal Arts School.

[3]Xue haixia, 2016, “Authenticity of Datong Restoration Project.” Shanxi Shifang University.



4 Comments on “[Datong]City Wall Demolition and Restoration 4: City Wall Restoration Process

  1. It is great news to see that China has been very active in preserving traditional architecture in recent years. However, some may raise the question over the quality of these repair work and whether the cultural complexity can be preserved as well. in the case of the Old Town of Lijiang, residents and visitors have been complaining that the revitalisation projects have led to over-commercialisation; consequently, the original historical and cultural values of the town have been diminishing.

    • Thanks for your comment! It is true that some restoration projects in China are being called”demolishing old while building new”(拆旧建新), and somehow all the newly built historical towns all look similar. Also, most of the original inhabitants are being moved out, leaving the so-called “historical vilages” to be ghost towns after visitors leave. How government deals with this kind of problem is still important to be discussed.

  2. The series of narratives paints a good overview of the process of preservation, covering historical, political and social issues around the plan. I would be interested in your own take on the type of restoration and preservation, namely that certain periods are privileged over other layers of history, and the recreation of the old as a means to evoke a notion of the past. The documentary also made clear that the task at hand was not authenticity, nor was it historical significance, but rather a totalizing image that is deemed economically beneficial to the area. Are the histories and memories of the evicted population less desirable or less important than the preserved monuments?

    PS. Please remember to cite all photos in your posts.

  3. This topic about heritage and conservation promises to be contentious. You have pointed us to some useful references in weighing out the odds. Citizens and governments tend to get involved when public funds are channeled to conservation efforts, which tend to be very costly. You would have noticed that it’s usually the scholars and intellectuals who lobby for conservation in a purist sort of way, and end users and citizens are much more pragmatic about their more immediate needs. These comments are hinting at multiple perspectives in a complex ecosystem of social and economic benefits in the broader scheme. Whose heritage, and who are the beneficiaries of such costly endeavors, they might ask!

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