Xuankong Monastery  懸空寺



  • Xuankong Monastery (English)
  • Xuánkōngsì (Pinyin)
  • Hsüan-k'ung-ssu (Wade-Giles)
  • 懸空寺 (Traditional Chinese)
  • 悬空寺 (Simplified Chinese)
  • Hanging Monastery (English)


山西省浑源县 Shanxi
  • China
  • Province:
    • Shanxi (Pinyin)
    • 山西省 (Traditional Chinese)
    • 山西省 (Simplified Chinese)
  • County-city:
    • Hunyuan (Pinyin)
    • 浑源 (Simplified Chinese)
  • Political-subdivision:
    • (Simplified Chinese)
    • County (English)
  • Coordinates:
    • Lat. 39.659831° Long. 113.708298°
  • Site Information

    Occupying a total area of 30 square meters and oriented facing eastward, Xuankong Monastery (also known as Xuankongsi 懸空寺 or the Hanging Monastery) is an icon of the Mount Heng (Hengshan 恆山) area. Its name is derived from its location on a cliff that stands between Mount Heng and Cuiping Peak (Cuipingfeng 翠屏峰). The earliest construction of Xuankongsi is said to date back to the Northern Wei (Bei Wei 北魏) dynasty, however the earliest large-scale construction is thought to have taken place in the Jin 金 dynasty. The site underwent significant renovations and additions during the Ming and Qing dynasties, whereby it assumed its current form. With forty bays of towers, pavilions, and worship halls organized into a rectangular courtyard complex, Xuankong Monastery can be divided into three sections: the monastery cloister (siyuan 寺院), the southern tower (nanlou 南樓), and the northern tower (beilou 北樓), all of which assume a different height from the ground level to conform to the overall geographical shape of the cliff. 1

    The support structure of the Xuankong Monastery complex consists of dozens of wooden beams to form a foundation. Soaked in tung oil (tongyou 桐油) to prevent corrosion and insect damage, the beams were joined into mortise holes, whose depths are roughly half of the length of the beams, that were chiseled into the cliffside. The use of this timber joinery system not only supports the weight of the Xuankongsi complex, it is also believed to counteract the damage of natural disasters, such as earthquakes. 2

    Date Founded in the later part of the Northern Wei 1
    Dynasty Northern Wei 386 - 534 3

    External Links

    Works Cited

    Any information without attribution has been created following the Syriaca.org editorial guidelines.

    • 1 国家文物局. 2006. 中国文物地图集. 山西分册, 127.Link to Zotero Bibliographic Record
    • 2 李. 2014. 悬空寺的巧妙设计理念探究, 114.Link to Zotero Bibliographic Record
    • 3 WILKINSON. 2000. Chinese History: A Manual, 12.Link to Zotero Bibliographic Record

    Contains artifact(s) (1)

    Date range

    How to Cite This Entry

    LI Zhixian 李知賢 et al., “Xuankong Monastery 懸空寺 ” in Architectura Sinica last modified February 18, 2022, https://architecturasinica.org/place/000298.


    LI Zhixian 李知賢 et al., “Xuankong Monastery 懸空寺 .” In Architectura Sinica, edited by Tracy Miller. Entry published December 12, 2021. https://architecturasinica.org/place/000298.

    About this Entry

    Entry Title: Xuankong Monastery 懸空寺

    Authorial and Editorial Responsibility:

    • Tracy Miller, editor, Architectura Sinica
    • LI Zhixian 李知賢 and Tracy Miller, entry contributors, “Xuankong Monastery 懸空寺

    Additional Credit:

    • Editing, proofreading, data entry and revision by Tracy Miller
    • Initial research, data entry, and adding external links by LI Zhixian 李知賢

    Copyright and License for Reuse

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