More castle than cosy home, this grand Qing dynasty former merchant's residence has been very well maintained (note the wooden galleries fronting many of the courtyard buildings) and exudes an austere magnificence. Due to the sheer size (250,000 sq m), the seemingly endless procession of courtyards (123 in all) become a little repetitive, but it's still beautiful and the complex is interspersed with gardens. Climb up onto the walls around the vast courtyard for excellent views and be eye-level with bird's nests.
Behind the castle walls are interesting and still-occupied cave dwellings (窑洞, yáodòng), while in front of the complex is a Yuan dynasty Confucius Temple, with a lovely three-tier wooden pagoda. An audio guide to the courtyard complex is ¥20 (¥50 deposit).
Four direct buses (¥17, one hour, 7.10am, 8.40am, 12.40pm and 2.20pm) leave from Pingyao’s bus station, returning at 10.50am, 12.30pm, 3.30pm and 5.20pm.