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Luoyang is the capital of Henan province, and is one of China's seven ancient capitals. History has left its mark on Luoyang, and there are a few very important historical sites here: Shaolin Temple, the home to kung fu, and inspiration for the popular film Kung Fu Panda, and the Longmen Grottoes, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
It has jurisdiction over one city, eight counties, and six districts with a total area of 15,208 square kilometers including 544 square kilometers of urban area. Its population is over 6.2 million, of which over 1.4 million people live in urban areas.
Luoyang has four seasons, with an average temperature of 59°F (15°C). Summers are hot, long and rainy, and summer clothing is appropriate until about September. The best time to visit is April, both for the weather and Luoyang's famous Peony Festival. Alternatively, October is also very pleasant, as summer becomes fall.
Luoyang still retains many of its significant ancient landmarks, which are the main tourist draw cards. The following highlights are located in and around Luoyang, and make a visit to this ancient capital memorable.
The Longmen Grottoes are a UNESCO World Heritage site, and worth the trip alone. There are about 2,100 grottoes and niches, more than 40 crematory urns, 3,600 inscribed stone tablets and over 100,000 Buddhist images and statues.
Shaolin Temple, easily accessible from Luoyang, is the birthplace of Kung fu. Definitely worth a visit for its culture and Kung Fu shows, but also its natural surroundings as it was constructed on a peaceful mountain.
Guanlin Temple is a beautiful temple, the only one to include a forest in its surroundings.
White Horse Pagoda is one of the oldest Buddhist temples in China. The compound also boasts a newer Thailand temple and an Indian temple, with the Thailand temple still partially under construction.
Old Town District in Luoyang still carries some of the city's original atmosphere. Think old and narrow streets and doors, and traditional snacks.
Luoyang Museum of Ancient Tombs boasts over 20 ancient tombs dating from the Han and Northern Song Dynasty. It displays fully restored funerary objects and rituals.
Luoyang served as the capital for nine dynasties over a period of more than 1,500 years. 96 emperors from the prehistoric Xia Dynasty, through the Shang, Zhou, Cao Wei, Sui, Tang and Han Dynasties established their seat of power there. Luoyang's importance in history means that it has significant influence in China's cultural heritage.