Yungang Grottoes – World Cultural Heritage in China

The Yungang Caves, in Datong City, Shanxi Province, with 252 caves and 51,000 statues, represent the outstanding achievement of Buddhist cave art in China during the 5th and 6th centuries. The five caves created by Tan Yao, with a close unity of layout and design, form a classical masterpiece of the first pinnacle of Chinese Buddhist art.


Accreditation year: 2001
Criteria: (i)(ii)(iii)(iv)
Area: 348.75 ha
Buffer zone: 846.81 ha
Datong City, Shanxi Province

Outstanding global value

The huge Buddhist caves of Yungang were cut from the middle of the 5th century to the beginning of the 6th century AD. Consisting of 252 caves and alcoves and 51,000 statues in an 18,000 square meter carving area, Yungang Cave represents the outstanding achievement of Buddhist cave art in China. The Five Caves created by Tan Yao is a classical masterpiece of the first pinnacle of Chinese art, with a close unity of layout and design. The will of the State was reflected in Buddhist beliefs in China during the Northern Wei Dynasty since the Caves were built under Imperial directives.

Caves 5 and 6

While influenced by Buddhist cave art from South and Central Asia, Yungang Cave has also interpreted Buddhist cave art with Chinese characteristics and local spirit. As a result, the Yungang caves played an extremely important role among early Eastern Buddhist caves and had a far-reaching impact on Buddhist cave art in China and East Asia.

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Criterion (i): The set of statues in Yungang cave is a masterpiece of early Chinese Buddhist cave art.

Criterion (ii): Yungang cave art represents a successful combination of Buddhist religious symbolism from South and Central Asia with Chinese cultural traditions, starting from the 5th century AD. under the auspices of the Royal Family.

Criterion (iii): The strength and persistence of Buddhist belief in China is vividly illustrated by the Yungang caves.

Criterion (iv): The Buddhist religious cave art tradition had its first major impact in Yungang, where it developed its distinctive artistic character and power.


The statues located in the caves and niches are in good condition and all the caves and statues were not severely damaged by vandalism and/or natural disasters. In the past, some statues have been restored and the missing parts repaired. All the necessary attributes to represent the Outstanding Universal Value of Yungang Grottoes are located within the boundaries of the property area. The Buffer Zone provides a safe area needed to preserve the Cave, its historic setting and environment. These measures have made Yungang Cave one of the greatest treasures of ancient rock carving art in the world.

Caves 7 and 8


The location, caves and statues of Yungang Caves still retain their historical appearance. The porches of the wooden pavilions in the cave and related historical sites retain the character of the period in which they were built. Daily maintenance and conservation interventions have been conducted according to the conservation principle of minimal interference in design, materials, methods, techniques and workmanship.

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Protection and management requirements

Yungang Cave was listed by the State Council in the first group of State Priority Protected Sites in 1961. Some of the laws and regulations include the “Law of the People’s Republic of China on Protection of the People’s Republic of China.” Cultural Relics”, “Regulations of Datong Municipality for Protection and Management of Yungang Caves” and “Master Plan for Conservation of Yungang Caves”, have ensured the conservation and management of these caves. Van Cuong cave.

Cave 3

A special organization (now known as “Yungang Cave Research Institute”) and professional team have been established to carry out the protection, monitoring and regular daily maintenance for six decades. via. Environmental improvement projects have been carried out in recent years in the surrounding villages based on the “Yungang Caves Conservation Master Plan”, a commitment the Chinese government made in the application. for inclusion on the World Heritage List. Conservation and maintenance interventions have followed conservation principles, and several pilot protection programs have been implemented to combat key threats including water seepage, rain and weather erosion.

Cave 20 with outstanding Buddha image

Map of Yungang Grottoes

Video about Yungang Cave – World Cultural Heritage in China

See also: UNESCO World Cultural/Natural Heritage Sites

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