Weekend trip to Luoyang
Last weekend we made a short visit to Luoyang, in Henan province. We took the train from Suzhou (17 hours) on Friday and arrived there on Saturday morning.
Luoyang was the capital of several dynasties and has a lot of interesting archaeological remains. We went to two museums but there were more. We didn’t have enough time to visit everything! The museums we went to were the Luoyang Museum and the Ancient Tombs Museum. The Luoyang Museum is quite big and it has remains from the Xia to the Song dynasty (roughly from 2000 BC to 1200 AD). The main stars in the exhibitions are the bronzes from the older dynasties and the three-colored pottery from the Tang dynasty.
The Ancient Tombs Museum was a little weird but also interesting. You basically get a long corridor with small doors to the tombs. Some of the tombs were originally there, many weren’t and were transfered there later. The museum is a bit far from the city center and to get back my friend Y. flagged down a bus! It was the bus back home for the museum workers and they took us for free and gave us some indications about the city. They were extremely nice!
At night we walked around the old city center. One of the museum workers told us a company from Beijing wanted to tear down all the old houses and make a new “old city center”, so hurry up if you want to visit before it’s gone.
On Sunday we went to the main attraction in Luoyang: the Longmen Grottoes.
Each of those holes is a cave with figures of Buddha sculpted inside. Many of them were painted and in some you can still see remains of the colours. The Longmen Grottoes are similar in style to the Yungang Grottoes in Datong, but I think Yungang is slightly better preserved and there are more big statues. In Longmen, many of the sculptures have been vandalized through the years and their heads are missing. We heard a tour guide explaining that most of the heads had been stolen and sold abroad during the second and third decades of the 20th century, when people didn’t have much to eat and no one cared about preserving the archaeological heritage.
We spent all Sunday in the Grottoes and didn’t have time to visit other sites in Luoyang like the White Horse Temple or the Carriages Museum. Luoyang has too many interesting sites! We will have to go back some time, as we absolutely loved the place and the people there.
How to get there: Luoyang is located in Henan province, in central east China. There is an airport with daily flights to Beijing, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Shenyang and other cities. You can also go by train, but there are not many fast trains yet, only from Beijing, Zhengzhou and maybe a few other places.
Moving around in Luoyang is pretty easy. There are buses to all the touristic places, but we took a taxi because we were 4 people and taxis were cheap (they start at 5 RMB; going to the airpor from the city center is around 30 RMB).
The entrance to the museums is free. The entrance to the Longmen caves is 120 RMB.