Luoyang - The Ancient Capital of Peonies

sichuan.jpg - 13888 Bytes The ancient city of Luoyang lies just south of the Yellow River in Henan Province. Luoyang is second only to Xi'an when it comes to distinguished history as a dynastic capital. It was here that Daoist founder Lao Zi ran the library 2,500 years ago; it was here that the Han Dynasty Imperial College enrolled 30,000 of the nation's best scholars in the 1st century AD; it was also here that Sui emperor connected his palace to the Grand Canal so that officials and merchants could sail from the middle of China northeast to Beijing and southeast to Hangzhou in the 6th century.

For 934 years, Luoyang was the center of the Chinese imperial ruling. Nowadays, however, the landscape of Luoyang is heavily marked by industrialization.

Luoyang's gardens are renowned for their peonies which have been growing in this region since their cultivation began under imperial patronage in the Sui and Tang dynasties.
Luoyang City Ratings
** The following ratings are based on a scale of 1-10, 10 being the best.
History(8)   Art(7) Local Culture/Unique Tour(4)
Nature/Scenic(5) Food/Shopping(3) Night Life(3)
Religion(8) Adventure/Sports(7) Reasonable Cost(9)
Recommended Days of Stay: 2

Quick Facts
Population - 1.29 million
When to go
Tourist Season - May through October
Coldest Months - January and February with temperature at -12C
Hottest Months - July and August with Temperature at 39C

Getting In and Out
By Air - Infrequent air connections are available with seven Chinese cities.
By Train - Luoyang is 2 hours by train from Zhengzhou
By Bus - The long-distance bus station is near Guan Yu Temple

History


Luoyang was built in the 11th-century BC. From 778 BC, Luoyang has been the capital for nine dynasties. Luoyang was the largest city in entire China during Tang Dynasty. Luoyang was also the earliest Buddhism centers, dating from the first century AD.

Many people from Luoyang believed that the Silk Road actually started from Luoyang because the silk here then was cheaper.

Luoyang declined later because the capital was moved away.


Luoyang Municipal Museum * * * * *
If you want to get a better understanding of the history of Luoyang, you can come to the Luoyang Municipal Museum which contains relics excavated in the city and provides a chronological history of the area, beginning with the late Neolithic Yangshao and Longshan cultures.

The museum has about 2,000 pieces on display and much more (50,000) in its collection. Famous relics include historical maps of the city that show the imperial cities and a double boiler used 3,700 years ago. Pay special attention to the Tang Sancai (Three-colored) horses. Reproductions of these beautiful pieces are available in the museum.


Tomb of Guan Yu * * *
Guan Yu was one of the heroes of The Three Kingdom period. He was described as one loyal, brave and intelligent general in the Chinese classic The Tale of The Three Kingdoms.

After his death, Gua Yu was made the Chinese god of war. His tomb which was built in the Ming was converted into a temple for worshippers to pray for courage and loyalty.

You can probably see Guan Yu's statue or picture in many overseas Chinese people's homes or businesses. They are supposed to possess the power to keep out the evil spirits and bad luck.

Art
Longmen Grottoes * * * * *
Northern Wei Dynasty moved its capital from Datong to Luoyang in 494 AD. After completing construction of Yungang Caves, it started another sculptural gallery, the Longmen caves. Today, the surviving caves count up to 1,352 and nearly 100,000 statues have been catalogued, twice the repository left at the Yungang caves in Datong.

The most famous caves are Bingyang Grottoes, Cave of Ten Thousand Buddhas (Wanfo Dong), Juxian Cave (Honoring Ancestors), Medicine Cave (Yao Fang Dong) and Guyang Cave.

Bingyang Grottoes are a massive cluster with many Buddhist figures. Many of the Buddha in these caves dated from 500 AD. Some took almost 150 years to finish. A large part of the middle Bingyang cave was removed and shipped to the United States. Western art collectors and treasure hunters caused great damage to this site earlier this century. Many Buddha statues were beheaded. Their heads were shipped to private homes or museums across the oceans in the name of preservation.

Wanfo (Ten Thousand Buddhas) Cave was south of Bingyang caves. It actually contains almost 15,000 Buddhas. The ceiling of the cave blooms with a single vast lotus flower. This cave was carved according to the order of Empress Wu in 680 AD.
Juxian Cave (Honoring Ancestors) is the largest at Longmen. It's another Empress Wu's creation at Longmen. The Buddha inside is 56 feet tall. This Buddha and the celestial guardian located in the north of the cave are said to be the best ever sculpted during the Tang Dynasty.

Medicine Cave is engraved with prescriptions for 120 diseases, ranging from diabetes to madness, from the pharmacies of the mid-6th century. Guyang cave is probably the oldest cave open at Longmen, dating from 495 AD.

Local Culture/Unique Tour
Folk Costume Museum * * *
You will need a good guide to explain everything to you. It is a good place to understand the local costumes and religious influences.

East is Red Tractor Factory*
Not too many factories are still named in such a revolutionary fashion. This factory used to be a flagship store for the communist party during the Culture Revolution. For those who are interested in this part of the Chinese history, this can prove to be an amusing experience.

Food/ Shopping
The Friendship Hotel
The Chinese restaurant in this hotel is nice.

LuoYang Antique Store
You can buy reproduction of Shang bronzes, artistic tiles, Tang horses and camels here.

Religion
Baima (White Horse) Si * * * *
Baima Si is significant because it is the first Buddhist temple in China, founded in 68 AD after the second Han Emperor Mingdi dreamed of a golden figure which was explained to him as being the Buddha. He then sent people to India in search of Buddhist sutras. His aids came back with the famous Indian Monks Shemeteng and Zhufalan, who arrived into Luoyang on white horses (as in the name of White Horse Temple). They stayed in Luoyang and translated the scriptures into Chinese. Both monks died in China and their tombs are still in Baima Si.

The buildings of Baima Si today, however, are not original. They are mostly from Ming and Qing.


Qiyun (Level with the Clouds)Pagoda * * * *
This 24-meters-high square brick pagoda was built in 1175. At the height of its power during the Tang Dynasty, it had over 1,000 monks. The temple is a good place for meditation and enjoying the fresh air.

 

 

 
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