A cut above

Updated: 2011-03-25 10:14

By Liu Lu (China Daily European Weekly)

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2. Baima Temple (White Horse Temple)

A cut above

This grand structure is one of the most impressive and sacred temples in Henan province.

Standing on the south of the Mangshan Mountain and facing the Luohe River, the temple is located 12 kilometers east of Luoyang.

With a history of more than 1,900 years, it is regarded as China's oldest Buddhist temple, which was built when Buddhism started to spread across China during the Han Dynasty (206 BC- AD 220).

The temple is reputed to be the "cradle of Chinese Buddhism" and enjoys a special place in Buddhist history.

As the result of destruction during war time, the temple has been repeatedly renovated and expanded. It is one of the few remaining Buddhist temples in use in Luoyang.

Outside the temple there is a square 13-story brick pagoda named Qiyun Pagoda, which is of high artistic value. It is the oldest of the ancient pagodas in China.

3. Luoyang Peony Fair

Luoyang is famous for its peony flowers, which represent elegance and prosperity.

Throughout Chinese history, peonies in Luoyang have been recognized as the most beautiful in China. From the time of the Sui Dynasty (AD 581-618), peony became a favorite flower in the imperial gardens.

This lovely plant has been the official flower of Luoyang since 1982.

When spring arrives, the whole city of Luoyang is filled with the sweet smell of peony.

Each year from April 15 to 25, Luoyang holds an annual peony festival along side lantern shows and other forms of entertainment. This special week attracts many visitors who come to enjoy the colorful flowers blooming all around the city.

The most famous place to admire peony is Wangcheng Park, the largest public park in Luoyang. It is located in the city center and easy to access no matter where you are staying.

4. Luoyang Museum

The best place for visitors to explore Luoyang's glorious past and discover its profound history is the Luoyang Museum, which is located in the city center. Admission is free.

Covering an area of more than 200,000 square meters, it is one of China's most important historical museums.

The exhibition center displays nearly 400,000 pieces of refined culture relics, including bronze wares, ceramics, gold, silver and jade artifacts and offers a comprehensive illustration of the city's grand past. The museum also holds exhibitions of calligraphy and paintings every year.

5. Guanlin Temple

This interesting temple was built to commemorate General Guan Yu of the State of Shu, which flourished during the Three Kingdoms Period (AD 220-280). With his fiery eyes and long beard, Guan is a legendary hero in Chinese folktales because of his loyalty and bravery.

Construction began in 1595, during the reign of Ming Emperor Wanli, and it has undergone several renovations and expansions during the succeeding Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).

The temple comprises halls, temples, pavilions and Guan's tomb. It is designed and built symmetrically, embodying the traditional Chinese architecture style.

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