Cultural Sites in Kaifeng – One of the 6 Chinese Ancient Capitals (开封古迹)

Apart from Luoyang, Kaifeng is another famous ancient capital in Henan. Widely known as the cradle of Chinese civilisation, Kaifeng was once the capital city of 8 Chinese dynasties. Contrary to its current underdeveloped state, it was once named the world’s most developed city during the 11th century!

I will now show you 4 of the cultural sites that have given me a better appreciation of the heritage and rich culture that one-fifth of the world’s population takes pride in.

河南,除了洛阳,还有个古城,名叫开封。

作为中华文化的发源地,开封是中国6大古都之一,曾有8个朝代在此定都。虽然现在的开封只是个三线城市,但在北宋时期,这里可是世界最繁华的城市,没有之一。

来到开封,简直就像是一趟中华历史之旅。

#1 The 966 Years Old Iron Pagoda 有着近千年历史的开封铁塔

An architectural miracle – the Iron Pagoda is now 966 years old, having survived 38 earthquakes and 9 floods since 1049. It is amongst the oldest pagodas in China.

The pagoda is so-named not because it is made of iron (bricks, instead), but because its color resembles that of iron. This octagonal-base structure stands at a current height of 57 meters, 13 stories in total. Richly adorned by more than 50 different kinds of glazed brick and 1,600 elaborate carvings, featuring buddhas, monks and animals, real and legendary alike.

A major restoration project was done to the Iron Pagoda in 1957, under the instruction of Chairman Mao. It was also amongst the first batch of national heritage sites to be protected by the Chinese national council.

经历了38次地震、9次洪水的侵袭,仍然屹立不倒的开封铁塔已经步入了它第966个年头了。

铁塔之所以被称为“铁塔”,并不是因为它是以铁打造的,而是因为其塔身的铜色琉璃砖头与铁锈的颜色十分相近。遥遥望去,就好似一座铁塔。它八角形的塔身四周悬挂着102个铜铃,随风摇曳,发出清脆但不吵闹的铃声,令人心旷神怡。

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It costs an extra 30 RMB to climb up the tower. Unfortunately, there was some repair work undergoing so I missed my chance.

想要登上铁塔,还得多付30元哦。

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On the octagonal corners are 100-odd bells that swing and sing along with the wind. Here you can also have an overview of the intricate carvings on the glazed bricks.

开封铁塔高57米,共13层。塔的表层被满满的琉璃砖覆盖着,千万幅神采各异的雕像弘扬着宋代高超的砖雕艺术境界。

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Reading from right to left, it means “World’s Number One Pagoda”

www.Travelgraphy.com_DSC_6971A small temple for prayers.

铁塔的不远处有座不大的寺庙(灵感寺)供游客拜访、供奉。

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It must be an excursion day for the kids in school. Hooray!

Travel Tips and Information:

  • Opening hours: 09:00 – 20:00
  • Entrance Fee: RMB 50
  • 210 Bei Men Da Jie, Kaifeng, Henan, China
  • How to get there:
    • By taxi: 20 mins from city centre, costs about RMB 30
    • By Bus: Bus number 1, 2, or 20
  • Tel: +86 378 282 6629
  • Estimated time for sightseeing: 1.5 hours

旅游小贴士:

  • 开放时间:09:00 – 20:00
  • 门票:人民币50元
  • 地址:北大门街210号,开封市,河南省
  • 怎么去:
    • 计程车:里市中心大约20分钟,打车费用约人民币30元
    • 公交车:从开封火车站或公交总站搭乘1号、2号或20号公车可以直达
  • 电话:+86 378 282 6629
  • 建议游玩时间:1.5小时

#2 Da Xiang Guo Temple 大相国寺

If you think the Iron Pagoda is miraculously ancient, let me show you something even older – the 1400-year old Da Xiang Guo Temple.

有着960多年历史的开封铁塔还不算古老,接下来让我带你看看有着1400年历史的大相国寺。跟白马寺相似,这是中国最著名的佛教古寺之一。

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Once a Royal Temple during the Song Dynasty, the temple was destroyed in a flood of the Yellow River and later by a fire, in the late Ming Dynasty. Several reconstructions took place during the Qing Dynasty that rescued it.

大相国寺的原名为“建国寺”,于北齐天保六年(555年)创建。但不幸的是,寺院后来遭水火两灾而毁,是经过了好几次的整修从而保存了下来。

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Similar to the  White Horse Temple, the main halls are flanked by complementary buildings such as a Bell Tower and a twin-liked Drum Tower.

是否觉得眼熟?无论是白马寺还是大相国寺,寺院的设计好像都是以主次分明的方形布局为主,两侧对称地附属着长得一模一样的钟楼与鼓楼。

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满满的红丝带,是祈求、是祝愿、是心灵的寄托,还是希望获得面对困难的勇气?

“Many people pray to be kept out of unexpected problems. Some people pray to be able to confront and overcome them” – Toba Beta

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Admittedly, one of the (bad) habits of photographers is that our eyes practise prejudice. They are biased towards uncrowded sceneries. So, let me make it known – the Da Xiang Guo Temple is rather crowded during the weekday morning when I set my feet in, though not as frustratingly crowded as the White Horse Temple in Luoyang. Nevertheless, be prepared and get ready to thrust your way through the senior citizens.

我的眼睛是偏心的。它不喜欢人群,喜欢寂静与融洽的大自然。因此我的照片往往也都是我偏心的写照。但我要声明的是,大相国寺可没有相片里那么的恬静悠然。熙熙攘攘的人群占多数,虽然它没有白马寺那么恐怖。😱

Travel Tips and Information:

  • Opening hours: 08:00 – 18:30
  • Entrance Fee: RMB 45
  • Zi You Road, Kaifeng, Henan, China
  • How to get there:
    • By taxi: 5 mins from city centre, costs < RMB 10
  • Estimated time for sightseeing: 1 hour

旅游小贴士:

  • 开放时间:08:00 – 18:30
  • 门票:人民币45元
  • 地址:开封市自由路西段
  • 怎么去:
    • 计程车:里市中心大约5分钟,打车费用少于人民币10元
  • 建议游玩时间:1小时

#3 The Dragon Pavilion 漫步龙亭

Once a palace in the Northern Song Dynasty, subsequently an imperial examination hall, and then a place for worships, the Dragon Pavilion is now a public park enjoyed by everyone (if you have paid the RMB 80 entrance fee, that is).

从北宋时期的皇宫,到顺治时期的科举场所,至后来的神祠,今天的龙亭成了开放给公众游赏的龙亭公园 (当然,前提是得先付80元的门票)。

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Sharing the same peony festival mood as its sister city Luoyang, Kaifeng is attracting her visitors with the same, here at Dragon Pavilion.

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正好赶上了牡丹盛开的季节,龙亭公园正在办一场名为“两宋花朝节”的花展。园中盛开的不只是花朵,也是一片春的气息。

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记得电影《满城尽带黄金甲》吗?据说这里是电影原著的灵感地之一。周杰伦的歌曲《菊花台》指的也是洛阳菊花

This place is an inspiration for the Chinese blockbuster movie, “Curse of the Golden Flower”.

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Inside the Dragon Pavilion – a glimpse of the imperial grandeur.

龙亭内的龙椅,金碧辉煌。

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As part of the flower exhibition, the park is also trying to depict the typical architectural layout during the Southern Song dynasty (yes, the television was already invented by then, if you were wondering the same question as I had).

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花痴如我,镜头下更多的是公园里大大小小知名与不知名的花朵。

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A stroll in the park at sunset, admiring the blossoming pretty faces in shades of yellow, red, magenta, cyan…. I’m in love.

I’m inexorably in love with all things pretty.

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Travel Tips and Information:

  • Opening hours: 08:00 – 19:00
  • Entrance Fee: RMB 80
  • Zhong Shan Road North Section, Kaifeng, Henan, China
  • How to get there:
    • By taxi: 10 mins from city centre, costs about RMB 10
    • By Bus: Bus number 1, 2, or 20
  • Estimated time for sightseeing: 2 hours

旅游小贴士:

  • 开放时间:08:00 – 19:00
  • 门票:人民币80元
  • 地址:开封市中山路北端
  • 怎么去:
    • 计程车:里市中心大约10分钟,打车费用约人民币10元
    • 公交车:搭乘1号、15号或20号公车可以直达
  • 建议游玩时间:2小时

#4 Watch an Outdoor Chinese Opera  大宋御河上听京剧与宋词歌舞

Lucky as I am, I chanced upon an opera performance right by my hotel doorstep! A multitude of fanciful decorations and performance stage set up by the Yu River, it’s a 0.6 billion dollar tourism effort by the city government to preserve Kaifeng’s title as China’s famous Water City.

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很幸运的,我下榻的酒店(速8酒店)的门口就是大宋御河。这是我在去开封之前完全不知道的景点。每天晚上,这里张灯结彩,还有免费的歌舞表演。虽然热闹,但却不会人多吵杂。趁着晚风习习的清爽天气,来这里漫步、听乐曲、开表演,是个不错的消遣。

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Travel Tips and Information:

  • Opening hours: 09:30 – 22:00
  • Entrance Fee: Free
  • Close to the city museum
  • How to get there:
    • By taxi: 10 mins from city centre, costs about RMB 10
    • By Bus: Bus number 1, 15, 20 or 30 and get down at the Kaifeng Museum. Walk for about 500m.
  • Estimated time for sightseeing: 2 hours

旅游小贴士:

  • 开放时间:09:30 – 22:00
  • 门票:免费
  • 地址:在开封博物馆附近
  • 怎么去:
    • 计程车:里市中心大约10分钟,打车费用约人民币10元
    • 公交车:搭乘1号、15号、20号或30号公车在开封博物馆下车,步行500米左右
  • 建议游玩时间:2小时

Read more about my journey in Henan, the cradle of Chinese civilisation: 

  1. Peony Festival in Luoyang (洛阳牡丹花会)
  2. A Visit to Emperor Wu Zetian’s Palace (一代女帝,武则天)
  3. The First Buddhist Temple in China (中国第一佛教古刹)
  4. #1 Attraction in Henan – The Longmen Grottoes(龙门石窟)

There are other places in Henan that you can find out about here: channelnewsasia.com/henan

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4 thoughts

  1. Pingback: Luoyang and Kaifeng Old Streets (洛阳与开封老街) | Travelgraphy

  2. Pingback: Tasty Treats (and Insects) at the Kaifeng Night Market | Travelgraphy

  3. Pingback: What is Luoyang Water Banquet? 什么是洛阳水席? | Travelgraphy

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