Built by the Khitan during the Liao dynasty (AD 907–1125), this temple faces east, not south (it’s said the Khitan were sun worshippers) and is divided into two separate complexes. One of these is an active monastery (upper temple), while the other is a museum (lower temple). Dating to 1140, the impressive main hall of the Upper Temple (上华严寺; Shàng Huáyán Sì) is one of the largest Buddhist halls in China, with Ming murals and Qing statues within.
The rear hall of the Lower Temple (下华严寺; Xià Huáyán Sì) is the oldest building in Dàtóng (1038), containing some remarkable Liao-dynasty wooden sculptures. Side halls contain assorted relics from the Wei, Liao and Jin dynasties. Unfortunately, the restoration program visited upon the old town has also reached Huáyán Temple and parts of it have undergone a facelift. Bus 38 runs here.