Luoyang is a famous historical and cultural city.
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Located in the western part of Henan Province, divided into one city, eight counties and six districts, Luoyang encompasses 15,492 square kilometers, with a total population of 6,16 million, of whom 1.4 million live in the city. The city proper covers an area of 544 square kilometers. Luoyang boasts a history of nearly 5,000 years. It has served as the political, economic and cultural center of China on a number of occasions throughout China’s long history. The city is one of the seven ancient capitals of China. Archaeologists have confirmed that Luoyang was the capital during the reigns of 96 emperors in 13 dynasties such as Xia, Shang, the Western Zhou, the Eastern Zhou, Eastern Han, Cao Wei, Western Jin, Northern Wei, Sui, Tang, Later Liang, Later Tang and Later Jin over a period of 1,529 years. Luoyang was the first to be made a capital. Of the seven ancient capitals of China, Luoyang served as a capital the longest in time and for the most of dynasties. The city’s long history as a center of China’s public life has left it with a rich cultural heritage.
As a famous historical and cultural city, Luoyang in recent years has tried to attract more domestic and overseas tourists with its splendid culture and distinctive features of the ancient capital. Today, there are eight major historical and cultural sites under state protection, 54 under provincial protection and 1,074 under municipal and county protection. The precious cultural relics unearthed totaled more than 400,000 pieces. Up to now, the number of cultural relics exhumed in Luoyang accounted for one-third of the total cultural relics discovered in Henan Province. Therefore Luoyang is crowned the underground treasure house of cultural relics.
The Longmen Grottoes, one of the most famous sets of Grottoes in China, is a treasure house of Buddhist culture and art. The Baima (White Horse) Temple was the first Buddhist temple established by the Eastern Han Dynasty (AD 25-220) government after Buddhism was introduced into China. Mangshan Mountain, located in the city’s suburbs, has the largest number of imperial mausoleums, the oldest dating back to the Eastern Zhou Dynasty (770-256 BC). It is also home to China’s first ancient mausoleums museum. The world’s first museum of ancient tombs was set up here.
Luoyang boasts many beautiful natural scenic spots. To the north, there is the Yellow River—the mother river of the Chinese nation, the scenic Xiaolangdi Reservoir and the tomb of Emperor Guangwu of the Eastern Han Dynasty (AD 25-220). To the south, there is the Baiyun State Forest Park, a limestone cave in the Jiguan Mountain, Shaolin Monastery and Songshan Mountain, famous as the home for Shaolin martial arts, is located in the southern part of Luoyang, along with the Baiyun Mountain and Huaguo Mountain national forest parks and the Jiuguanshan Caves. In addition, Luoyang has taken advantage of its peony culture to promote tourism and accelerate economic growth. With a cultivation history of more than 1,500 years, the city has over 600 varieties of peony, which are well known the world over. In mid-April, the fragrant peony is in full blossom in a blaze of colour. Since 1983, the Luoyang peony fair is held annually to attract millions of Chinese and overseas tourists for sightseeing and business people for trade talks. In order to turn Luoyang into the country’s excellent tourist city, it has promoted the construction of infrastructure to improve tourism services. And measures have been adopted to improve the environment of some major scenic spots.
Luoyang is a very important communication hub in central part of China. Two railway trunk lines, Lianyuangang-Lanzhou Railway and Jiaozuo-Zhicheng Railway cross in the city. Zhengzhou-Luoyang Expressway, China Highway 310 and China Highway 207 form a highway network. And two expressways including Luoyang-Sanmenxia Expressways are under construction. In addition to its tourist attractions, Luoyang has also developed into an important industrial city. It has nurtured six key industries. Such as petrochemicals, machinery and electronics, metallurgy, construction materials, textile and food. Luoyang is known as the place where China’s west and east meet. With the country’s implementation of the western development programme, Luoyang is expected to become a hot place for overseas investment.
Guan Yu's Mausoleum 关林
The mausoleum is located 7 kilometers southern Luotyang. Legend goes it that when General Guan Yu关羽 (?-219) of the Shu Han Kingdom was defeated and killed in a battle, his head was buried in what is now the site of the mausoleum on the outskirts of Luoyang. At the mausoleum, Guan Yu’s statues in a sitting position are displayed in two largest halls, with over 1,000 ancient cypresses grown in the compound. A museum of ancient stone-carvings and a museum of ancient stele-carvings are now on show in the side halls to the east and west of the courtyard.
Longmen (Dragon Gate) Grottoes 龙门石窟
Located along the banks on Yihe River in Luoyang, Henan Province, the Longmen Grottoes are important cultural relics under state protection. The carvings started in 493, and took more than 400 years (Eastern Wei, Western Wei, Northern Qi, Sui Tang, and Northern Song dynasties) to complete. Along the cliffs, there are more than 2,100 niches, 2,800 inscribed stone tablets. Buddhist pagodas and nearly 110,000 Buddhist images and statues still exist today.
The Grottoes are an outdoor art museum of stone carvings and have significant value to the study of ancient China’s history and society. The most spectacular Grottoes at Longmen include Guyang Grotto 古阳洞， Binyang Grotto宾阳洞， Lianhua (Lotus) Grotto莲花洞，Qianxi Temple潜溪寺and Fengxian Temple奉先寺. The group statues of Sambhaga-Kayah 卢舍那佛at Fengxian Temple are large and exquisitely carved.
The Longmen Grottoes display the typical imperial style and combine features of numerous sects of Buddhism. They have the highest number of inscribed stone tablets among China’s grottoes. To improve the site of the relics, Luoyang has made great efforts to improve the environment around the Grottoes since 1998.
UNESCO inscribed the Longmen Grottoes, Luoyang, Henna Province, on the World Heritage list in November 2000.
Long-Lost Buddha returns to Longmen Grottoes
An 84.3-centimeter-high limestone sculpture of the upper part of a life-sized “arhat” Buddha was returned to Longmen Grottoes, Luoyang, Henan Province. The bust of the Buddha had been passed around the world for more than 60 years and its last resting place was in Ottawa, Canada. Wang Zhenguo, a historian and a researcher with the Longmen Grottoes Research Institute in Henan Province, remembers the quiet ceremony when he, Liu Jinglong, the institute’s drector, and a few other leading Chenese historians and Buddhist art experts took over possession of the large red box containing the sculpture from Pierre Theberge, director of the National Gallery of Canada, and Sophia Leung, a member of the Canadian Parliament, who presented the sculpture to the Chinese State Administration of Cultural Heritage. They carefully examined the limestone piece and observed the arhat Buddha’s serene face with high cheekbones, a broad mouth and two ears with broad earlobes. There was a separate fragment of a lotus carving, originally held in the arhat’s hand. When theky finally decided the sculpture did originally come from the Longmen Grottoes, they heaved a sign of relief. This part of the “arhat” sculpture was created more than 1,387 years ago in the Kaiyuan Period (713-741) of the Tang Dynasty after the reign of Empress Wu Zetian (624-705, reigned 690-705). It was the bust of Mahakasyapa, one of the two most prominent disaples of Sakyamuni, founder of Buddhism. For centuries, Mahakasyapa stood as the head of 29 life-size arhat Buddhas carved onto the southern, eastern and northern walls of Kanjing Temple, the largest Temple in the Eastern Mount at Longmen Grottoes. The return of the bust of Mahakasyapa has restored the original link between the bust of Mahakasyapa and the rest of the 29 arhat Buddha sculptures in the Kanjing Temple and the bust of Mahakasyapa and the entire sculptures of the Longmen Grottoes as well.
Construction of the Grottoes for the promotion of Buddhism and the creation of Buddhist art at Longmen began in the Northern Wei Dynasty (386-534). Buddhist art enjoyed its height of prosperity during the Tang Dynasty (618-907). Longmen Grottoes were added to UNESCO’s World Heritage list on November 28, 2000. The United Nations Educational and Cultural Organization said the Grottoes are an outstanding manifestation of human artistic creativity. The Grottoes have suffered serious natural and human damage over the centuries. But the best stone carvings and sculptures at the Grottoes were pillaged and taken overseas in the 1930s. Interviews conducted in the 1960s between the institute’s researchers and local stonemasons suggested that thieves and bandits roamed the area in those years. The bust of Mahakasyapa must have been chiseled off from the southern wall in Kanjing Temple and taken abroad between 1936 and 1940. Photos taken by the Japanese, who entered Luoyang in 1936, showed that the 29 arhat sculptures remained almost intact at that time. But no photographic documentation made after 1940 shows a complete sculpture of Mahakasyapa. According to Marie Lugli, from the National Gallery of Canada, the sculpture was first documented as detached from the wall in 1970 when it was sold with a collection of Chinese art assembled by Mary Cohen at Sotheby’s, in London, UK. That same year, a private collector from the United States bought the sculpture. The late Dr Herman Levy, of Hamilton in Canada, later acquired it. Dr Herman donated it to the National Gallery of Canada in 1978. Theberge said he discovered the sculpture belonged to China only a few weeks ago when he saw a picture of the original relief in a gallery document. In keeping with the gallery’s acquisitions policy to act in a responsible manner to preserve humanity’s artistic heritage, the National Gallery of Canada decided to return the sculpture to China when it found out where it belonged. Officials from the Chinese State Administration of Cultural Heritage said this was the first time a foreign museum had asked to return a piece to China. The return of the Buddhist sculpture will encourage others to return more pieces of displaced Chinese art.
The White Horse Temple 白马寺
Lying 10 kilometers east of Luoyang, the White Horse Temple was built in AD 68 in the Eastern Han Dynasty and was the cradle of Chinese Buddhism. It was originally the place where Liu Zhuang, the second emperor of the Eastern Han Dynasty, used as a summer resort and for study. In the year when Kasyapamatanga迦叶摩腾and another eminent Indian monk brought Buddhist scriptures to Luoyang on the back of a white horse to spread Buddhism, the emperor, a devout believer in Buddhism, Built the first government-run Temple in China and called it White Horse Temple. The Temple was the earliest sanctuary for Buddhist rituals in China. Legend has it that there were several thousand monks in the temple. During the turmoil of Wang Mang (AD 8-23) in the last years of the Eastern Han Dynasty. The Cool and Clear Terrance of the Temple alone held over 20,000 refugees. Today, there still remain the column bases of the halls of the Cool and Clear Terrace. Kasyapamatanga and the other Indian monk were buried in the Temple grounds. Following the example of the two eminent monks, many monks from the Western Regions came to Luoyang one after another. In the Tang Dynasty, Xuan Zang (602-664) went from Luoyang to the Western Regions to go on a pilgrimage for Buddhist scriptures for 17 years in the period 629 to 646. After returning to the homeland, he became the abbot of the White Horse Temple and disseminated the scriptures of Buddhism.
A restoration project at the White Horse Temple in Luoyang, Henan Province, in Central China, demolished illegal business structures and created new religious buildings. Illegal structures include business shops on the square in front of the temple, China’s oldest Buddhist building. After removing the shops, The local government planned to invest 13 million yuan (US$ 1.57 million) to enlarge the square to 1.5 hectares (3.75 acres). Construction projects there covered a series of religious facilities including a 500-meter-long-stone-paved path leading to the Temple gate, and a 2,000-square-meter fish pond. In addition, the city has constructed buildings next to the Temple featuring religious culture.
Luoyang Peony 洛阳牡丹
The historical and cultural city of Luoyang is renowned for its beautiful flower—the peony. Peony, which is crowned “the king of flowers,” for its gorgeous charm and prestigious reign in the flower world, is a king of traditional famous flower in China with unique beauty and dignity. The peony flower is traditionally a symbol of grace in China. Luoyang is noted for its peony flowers. The city, situated in Central China’s Henan Province, has favourable conditions for cultivating peony. It has all four seasons with moderate temperature and humidity. In the Sui Dynasty, peony was popularly cultivated in Luoyang. Cultivation of the peony has a history of more than 1,500 years in Luoyang. In the Tang Dynasty, many famous peony gardens were built throughout the city. And in the Song Dynasty, Luoyang became the country’s peony cultivation and trade center. The peony was called “Luoyang Flower” and has the reputation of being “the finest under the heaven.” For thousands of years, the love and respect for the peony among the Luoyang people is everlasting. Since the Tang Dynasty, people have created innumerable poems, calligraphy works and paintings to depict peony.
After the new China was founded in 1949, peony has been adored and loved by more and more Chinese people. Since the late 1972, Luoyang municipal government adopted the peony cultivation as an important measure to accelerate opening-up, economic development and constructing the famous historical and cultural city. At present, Luoyang has greatly promoted the research of peony cultivation technologies. With the increasing industrialization of the peony, Luoyang has witnessed another prosperous period in its peony development history. In 1982, the peony was designated as the city flower of Luoyang. The municipal government decided to hold a peony fair every year during April 15-25 when the peony is in full blossom. Today, the peony fair is a comprehensive economic and cultural gala. the joint business volume of economic and trade negotiations and co-operation reached 17.2 billion yuan (US$ 2.1 billion) including US$720 million of foreign fund. More and more foreign countries have stared to learn and co-operate with Luoyang through the peony. Through the fair, the Luoyang peony has become more popular throughout the world. More than 20 countries including Japan, France, Germany, the United States, Finland and the Netherlands have introduced the Luoyang peony to their countries as an exotic flower.
When peonies are in full bloom in April every year, thousands of people swarm to the city to have a real taste of their beautiful colours and charming fragrance. Numerous poems, calligraphy works, songs and paintings have been devoted to depicting the delicate flower. In the past few decades, peony cultivation had developed rapidly in Luoyang. Especially since the reform and opening-up policy initiated, peony cultivation and commercialization have been put on the agenda for Luoyang to speed up its economic development and help it become a famous historical and cultural city. Luoyang has the greatest number of peony varieties. At resent, the city boasts about 700 varieties of peony, 68 cultivation locations and a growth area of around 5,000 hectares (12.355 acres).
More About The Henan Province
- Kaifeng Introduction
Kaifeng is one of the Seven Ancient Capitals of China. As with Beijing, there have been many reconstructions during its history.
- Luoyang Introduction
Luoyang is a famous historical and cultural city.
- Zhengzhou Introduction
Zhengzhou, capital of Henan Province, has a history of about 3,000 years.
- Mount Songshan
Scenic Area And The Shaolin Temple.