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The "Site of the Merits"

This article was originally published on February 8, 2010, in the Shenzhen Daily.
The information was accurate at that time, and may be outdated now. Use with caution.

Ornate front gate of the "Site of the Merits," an old walled village in Sungang
When friends say "Shenzhen has no historical buildings," I like to take them to the walled village known as "The Site of the Merits."

It was founded in the 1350s by He Zhen (1321-1388), a Dongguan native and former military man who served as governor of several Chinese provinces. His descendants lived here for generations; the squatters who followed have been moved out to prepare the site for visitors.

A small Earth God temple at the rear of the village
Entering the magnificent front gate, you'll see one central street running back to a small temple, crossed by several perpendicular streets, a common feature of walled villages in South China. Walk down these to see a few beautiful friezes and cornices on some of the walls. A well is just inside the gate.

A new Tian Hou temple stands just north of the village compound
In contrast to the aged village, the Tianhou temple that stands north of the front gate appears quite new. It contains one of the finest collections of Chinese folk religious statuary I've seen anywhere.

The nearby He family ancestral hall

Walk back past the front gate of the village through some alleyways and you'll soon see a He family ancestral hall. Though the Hes left the village compound in the 1980s, many of the families in the surrounding area still proudly bear the name.

To reach the Site, head for the Tianxincun (田心村) bus stop. (Bus 18 goes there, from just north of the Diwang Building.) Go through the village gate on the east side of Baogang Road. When you reach the large tree, turn left; follow the narrow road to its end, which runs into the south wall of the village. Turn right to the plaza; just over the plaza wall are the train lines running from Shenzhen to Guangzhou and points throughout China.

A couple of details of the village:

A visit with some friends:

There's more about the "Site of the Merits" in another article in the Shenzhen Daily, "Fortified village survives city's modernization."

GPS Info:
  • Village = 22.565503, 114.115328
  • Tianhou Temple = 22.565674, 114.115617
  • Ancestral Hall = 22.564289, 114.114987


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The site here is labeled "Yuanxun Former Site"

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