Hanging Temple (Xuankong Si)

Heng Shan (Bei Yue), Shanxi

Heng Shan is one of five sacred Daoist mountains, climbed by emperors to seek blessings from the time of Qin Shi Huang onwards. The spectacular Hanging Temple was first built by the Northern Wei, although its present structures only date from the Qing Dynasty. The long poles, that seem to prop up its buildings, are more for visual effect. The temple is actually cut into the side of the rock, with additional support from cantilevered floor beams that have been socketed into the cliff (closeup).

Xuankong is religiously eclectic. Of the three major halls seen here, the leftmost is Buddhist, the middle is Daoist, and the rightmost is Confucian.