Guyaju Caves (also called the Yanqing Ancient Cliff House) is a cave complex located on the slopes of Tianhuang Mountain in the Yanging District of China that was discovered in 1984.
The cave system comprises of 350 chambers, in a system of 117 caves that were hewn from the granite rock face of a secluded gorge, covering an area of around 24.7 acres (100,000 square meters).
No dateable archaeological evidence has survived, nor any mention in historical literature, so the true origins of who constructed Guyaju remains a mystery.
Some scholars argue that the site was founded by the Kumo Xi that existed more than 1,000 years ago in the Five Dynasties Period (AD 907 – 960). Other theories suggest that the complex was a granary built in the Tang Dynasty (AD 618 to 907) or that it served as a garrison for soldiers during the Han Dynasty (202 BC – AD 220).
The honeycomb of chambers, mainly constructed in a rectangular or square form vary in size, from single room chambers to some containing two or three rooms over multiple levels. Most chambers feature a doorway entrance, windows, kangs, stoves, a bed and storage compartments carved in stone.
The lower levels were mainly used for stabling horses, whilst the upper levels were residential in function and were interlinked with a network of vertical and horizontal passages accessed with stone stairs.
The largest and most complicated structure in the site is called the “Guantangzi” meaning “Golden Temple”, a collection of 8 chambers dived over two floors. Two thick rock pillars in front of the cave support the cave roof of the Guantangzi, and eight rock pillars inside the cave support what is described as an altar.
In 1990, Guyaju was awarded cultural protection by the Beijing Municipal Cultural Relics Bureau.
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