A street front on a street in Luoyang, these were mostly restaurants which were not open at the time the photo was taken
Luoyang has served as the capital city in China for 13 different dynasties, the earliest being Xia dynasty (2000-1500 B.C.) and the most famous Tang dynasty (618-907 A.D.) Actually, the Tang dynasty capital was Xian, west of Luoyang. Most people know the Tang dynasty was one of the golden times in Chinese history, but maybe not everyone knows that it was briefly interrupted by a woman emporer Xu Ze Ten who established her own dynasty called Zhou (the only woman emporer in China), and moved the capital to Luoyang during her 22 year rule of China. She was the wife of the 3rd emporer of Tang, exerted great power during his later life, and took over when he died. It was during the her reign before moving the capital when the peony was "demoted" to Luoyang (then only the eastern capital).
The front of the hotel Huayang Plaza, with Roman style columns. It's one of the newest hotels here.
The story goes that she was really a powerful goddess, and on one occasion after she was drunk from a feast, she commanded all the flowers to bloom at once in the winter time, each flower being a lesser goddess, all of them complied except the peony, so she was mad and demoted the peony to Luoyang. Ever since, Luoyang has been famous for its peonies. The Tang dynasty also saw great flourishing of Buddhism which had already been in China (from India) for a long time, but became throughly sinicized then. The Longmen grottoes had many buddhism statues from the Tang dynasty, and some from the Sui dynasty (just before Tang).
The threat of rain did not materialize, it was cloudy and brisk. We went to Longmen Grottoes this morning. A short ride from the hotel, driving through the new parts of town with many new government buildings, over the Luo river to Longmen.
Some peonies at the hotel
There were two mountains budding the Yi river, forming somewhat of a gate, thus the name Longmen (Dragon Gate). We took a short electric shuttle to the entrance, shivering in the cold open air, and walked along the western side of the river to see the most grottoes. The first few were good, but the last one was really impressive, and not destroyed or otherwise damaged. The statues were big too, with very graceful faces. Plan to spend 2-3 hours here if you want to see both sides of the river. Hope my photos will turn out later.
After lunch we saw the "emperor's carriage with 6 horses" archelogical site in the middle of town (where they found it only a couple of years ago when digging to build some buildings). There were several remains of carriages with horses in front of them, some with 2 horses, some with 4, and one with 6 for the "son of heaven, the emporer".
Condos in Luoyang, supposedly going for around 1500RMB/square meter, a LOT cheaper than what you could get in Beijing. Our guide told us that foreigners even get free condo if they move here to invest in Luoyang.
These were from the Zhou dynasty (not the one by the woman emporer, but the first one from about 1027-771 B.C.) There were several dog skeltons among the carriages, actually under the carriages. From their shapes, it was established that they were alive when the tomb was closed, they hid under carriages, and died there. While the horses were killed and placed nicely in front of the carriages. On top of this museum was a statue showing what the 6 horse carriage might have looked like. The museum was on the main street in the middle of Luoyang, so it should be easy to find.
Last stop was the Wancheng park, the site of the imperial city of the Zhou dynasty mentioned in association with the 6 horse carriages. There were so many peonies. Some were rained on and didn't look their best, but there were still so many to see.
Longmen grottoes entry, the ground was wet, but no more rain that day
There was a cold front recently and it had rained last night. Some sections of the park peonies were covered by plastic tarps for protection. Since there were many varieties of peonies, they did not actually all bloom at the same time. Usually this time of the year it was already getting warm. But for walking around, it was actually nice to have cool weather.
For dinner we had the local famous "water/soup feast", where alll the dishes were soups. That sounded strange, right? Well, they tasted strange too, mostly with a sour or sweet combination, which did not appeal to most people in our tour group. I did not find it very appetizing either, but it was something to experience once.
In the hotel, they had only one computer in the business center which can be used in English, but at least they had them, and it was 20RMB per hour here in Luoyang.