The Yungang Grottoes lie at the foot of Wuzhou Mountain to the west of Datong City, Shanxi Province.
The Yungang Grottoes stretch continuously for as long as one kilometer. There are 53 extant caves, 110 niches and more than 51,000 small and big statues. The grottoes are chiseled along the mountain, consisting of three parts: the east, the middle and the west. The whole group of the grottoes is large in scale and exquisite in carving, which is one of the largest groups of grottoes in China. The main part of the Yungang Grottoes was first built from the Heping reign (460-465) of Emperor Wencheng in the Northern Wei Dynasty (386-534) to the 18th year (494) of the Taihe reign of Emperor Xiaowen, the completion of other small niches lasted to the Zhengguang reign (520-525) of Emperor Xiaoming. In the famous geographical writings Commentary on the Waterways of the Southern and Northern Dynasties (386-581), it is recorded that drilling the rocks and blasting the mountains, building according the conditions of the rocks; it is so grand and splendid that they are rarely seen in the world; halls on the mountains and palaces above the waters face each other, while the temples are covered by fogs, which is the real description of the spectacular sceneries of the Yungang Grottoes of that time.
The Yungang Grottoes are famous for the rich and magnificent stone-carving statues. The biggest one in the grottoes is 17 meters high, while the smallest is only several centimeters. The statues of all kinds are vivid and lifelike. The artistic style of the grottoes has not only followed taht of the Qin and Han dynasties, but also assimilated the essences of the foreign art to create their particular characteristics. It has exerted profound impact on the arts of the later Sui and Tang dynasties, and possessed an important position in the history of Chinese art. The Yungang Grottoes, the Dunhuang Grottoes in Gansu Province and the Longmen Grottoes in Henan Province are called the three most important grottoes in China.