Situated on the central plain of China, Luoyang is one of the cradles of the Chinese civilization. As one of the four great ancient capitals of China, Luoyang served as the capital for 1,500 years of 13 kingdoms and dynasties since the Xia Dynasty (c. 2070 BC–c. 1600 BC). Taoism, Confucianism and Buddhism also thrived here.
Today, Luoyang impressed people from around the world with its cultural signs including the Longmen Grottoes, a treasure house of ancient Buddhist cave art and a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site; the White Horse Temple, a cradle of Buddhism in China; and peonies, the flower of Luoyang city and the national flower of China. To visit Longmen Grottoes and White Horse Temple and appreciate peonies are the top 3 things to do in Luoyang.
The Longmen Grottoes is located on both sides of the Yi River to the south of the ancient capital of Luoyang, Henan Province. Longmen Grottoes were first sculptured and chiseled around 493 A.D. when Emperor Xiaowen of the Northern Wei Dynasty (386-534) moved the capital to Luoyang. The entire construction of Longmen Grottoes lasted more than 400 years until the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127). Today, there are still 2,345 caves and niches, 3,600 inscriptions, 100,000 Buddhist images ranging in size from 2 cm to 17.14m, more than 2,800 inscribed tablets, and 50 Buddhist pagodas remaining. The remarkably varied carvings stretch for about 1km from north to south, and most of them are the works of the Northern Wei Dynasty and the flourishing age of the Tang Dynasty (618-907). The caves are illuminated at night.
Maintaining a great deal of material evidences for religion, fine art, calligraphy, music, apparel, medicine, architecture and exchange activities, Longmen Grottoes is deemed as a large museum for the art of stone carving. It is praised as one of the three major treasure houses of stone carving in China, alongside with Mogao Caves in Dunhuang of Gansu Province and Yungang Grottoes in Datong of Shanxi Province. Longmen Grottoes was listed as a World Cultural Heritage Site on Nov 3, 2000.
White Horse Temple (Baima Si)
The White Horse Temple (Baima Si) is located 12 kilometers away from the east of Luoyang City, Henan Province. Established in 68 AD under the patronage of Emperor Ming in the Eastern Han Dynasty (AD 25-220), the White Horse Temple is China’s first Buddhist temple, and is respected as the “originating court” and the “cradle of Chinese Buddhism”.
The name of the temple reflects the story of how its two founding monks brought saddlebags of Buddhist scriptures to China on the backs of white horses. The temple was built in the monks’ honour, and they lived here and translated the sutras from Sanskrit into Chinese. Outside the Temple Gate stand two green stone horses opposite to each other, which were made in the Song Dynasty. The white horses’ contribution of carrying Buddhist scriptures here will be remembered for ever.
Facing the south, the main buildings of the temple are arranged along a central axis that extends northward inside the entrance, including the Hall of Heavenly Kings, the Hall of Great Buddha, the Hall of Mahavira, the Hall of Guidance, and the Vairocana Pavilion. The Hall of Great Buddha houses a huge bell from the Ming Dynasty, and the bell will be stroke to welcome the New Year, which attracts flocks of domestic and foreign tourists.
Peony Culture Festival of Luoyang China
Peony is the most beautiful among all flowers and is king of flowers, and Luoyang is famous for its peonies. The warm climate, enough rainfalls and fertile land of Luoyang result in cultivation of many rare species of peony. The magnificent Peony Culture Festival held in Luoyang every April attracts millions of visitors from around the world. It is the largest annual festival of Luoyang, which integrates tourism, economy, trade, scientific and technological exchanges, culture, art and sports, and it has become a calling card of Luoyang. More than 30 such fairs have been held since 1983.