Folk Tourism

Cave dwelling in northern Shaanxi: Precious “living fossil” of Chinese cultural heritage

Cave dwelling is an ancient dwelling form for residents who live on the loess plateau in northwest China. This type of cave dwelling can date back to more than 4,000 years ago. Cave dwelling is extensively dispersed in Shaanxi, Shanxi, Henan, Hebei, the Inner Mongolia, Gansu, the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region and other provinces on the loess plateau. In Shaanxi, Gansu, and Ningxia Area in China, the loess layer is very thick, with that in some of the areas reaching tens of kilometers. The Chinese people make the best of the geological advantages of the region in a very creative way and live in cave dwellings, thus creating a type of cave architecture called green building. It has become one of the five traditional residential building forms in China. The cave dwelling in northern Shaanxi is a classic example of cave architecture. 

The cave dwelling in Shaanxi is mainly dispersed in northern Shaanxi, which refers to cave dwellings in Yan’an and Yulin of Shaanxi Province. It is built along the mountains and underneath the loess plateau, a cave dwelling form in natural loess. It is cool in summer and warm in winter. It does no harm to the ecosystem, nor does it occupy any fertile farmlands. It is also very economical. With the merits such as the aforesaid, local people extensively adopt it.