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Luoyang

Luoyang is a prefecture-level city in western Henan Province of China. It borders the provincial capital of Zhengzhou to the east, Pingdingshan to the southeast, Nanyang to the south, Sanmenxia to the west, Jiyuan to the north, and Jiaozuo to the northeast. Situated on the central plain of China, one of the cradles of the Chinese civilization, Luoyang was one of the Four Great Ancient Capitals of China.

History
The greater Luoyang area has been sacred ground since the late Neolithic. This area at the intersection of the Luo and Yi rivers, called The Waste of Xia, was considered to be the geographical center of China. Because of this sacred aspect several cites, all of which are generally referred to as "Luoyang", have been built there. In 2070 BCE, the Xia Dynasty king Tai Kang moved the Xia capital to the intersection of Luo river and Yi River and named the city Zhenxun. In c 1600 BCE, King Tang of Shang defeated Jie, the final Xia Dynasty king, and built Western Bo (Chinese Pinyin: Xībó), a new capital on the Luo River. The ruins of Western Bo are located in Luoyang Prefecture.

In the 1136 BCE a settlement named Chengzhou was constructed by the Duke of Zhou for the remnants of the captured Shang nobility. A second Western Zhou capital, Wangcheng (also: Luoyi) was built 15 km west of Chengzhou. It was the capital of the Eastern Zhou Dynasty in 771 BCE. The Eastern Zhou Dynasty capital was moved to Chengzhou in 510 BCE. Later, the Han dynasty capital of Luoyang would be built over Chengzhou. The ruins of Chengzhou are still visible today 2 km east of the White Horse Temple area. Modern Luoyang is built over the ruins of Wangcheng, which are still visible today at Wangcheng Park.

In AD 25, Luoyang became the capital of Eastern Han Dynasty. For several centuries, Luoyang was the focal point of China. In AD 68, the White Horse Temple, the first Buddhist temple in China, was founded in Luoyang. The temple still exists, though the architecture is of later origin, mainly from the 16th century. An Shihkao was one of the first monks to popularize Buddhism in Luoyang.

In AD 190, Chancellor Dong Zhuo ordered his soldiers to ransack, pillage and raze the city as he retreated from the coalition set up against him by regional lords from across China. The court was subsequently moved to the more defensible western city of Chang'an. Following a period of disorder, Luoyang was restored to prominence when Emperor Wen of the Wei Dynasty declared it his capital in AD 220. The Jin Dynasty, successor to Wei, was also established in Luoyang. When Jin was overrun by invaders and forced to move its capital to Jiankang (modern day Nanjing), Luoyang was nearly totally destroyed.

In AD 493 the Northern Wei Dynasty moved its capital from Datong to Luoyang and started the construction of the rock-cut Longmen Grottoes. More than 30,000 Buddhist statues from the time of this dynasty have been found in the caves. Many of these sculptures were two-faced. The Empress Dowager Wenming tomb was also built here.

During the Tang Dynasty, Luoyang was the eastern capital and at its height had a population of around one million. During the short-lived Five Dynasties, Luoyang was the capital of the Later Tang. After that period, Luoyang no longer served as capital of any subsequent dynasties.

Culture
The Longmen Grottoes were listed by UNESCO in the list of World Heritage Sites in November 2000. White Horse Temple is located 12 km east of the modern town. Guanlin is a series of temples that have been built in honor of a hero of the Three Kingdoms period, Guan Yu, close to the grottoes to the south of the city. China's only tombs museum, the Luoyang Ancient Tombs Museum is situated north of the modern town. Luoyang Museum was founded in 1958. The exhibitions in the museum are the ancient relics handed down from Xia Dynasty, Shang Dynasty and Zhou Dynasty. The total number of the exhibitions is 1700.

Luoyang is also famous for the Water Banquet Shui Xi, which consists of 8 cold and 16 warm dishes cooked in various broths, gravies or juices, hence its name. Luoyang has a reputation as a cultivation centre for peony (city flower of Luoyang),  and a festival from April 1 st to May 10th every year is held for this flower.

An ancient Chinese musical piece, Spring in Luoyang, was adopted in Korea during the Goryeo Dynasty (918-1392), and is still performed in its Koreanized (Dangak) version, called Nakyangchun. The American composer Lou Harrison created an arrangement of this work.

80 km south-east of Luoyang stands the Dengfeng Observatory (also known as "The Tower of Chou Kong"). It is a tower which was constructed during the Yuan Dynasty in 1276 by Guo Shou-Ching, as a giant gnomon for the 'Measurement of the Sun's Shadow'. It was used for establishing the Summer and Winter Solstices. This astronomic instrument is described in detail by Joseph Needham in "Science and Civilisation in China", Cambridge Univ. Press. Roman Catholic Diocese of Luoyang


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