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History and Culture
Henan holds a very important position in the formation and development of Chinese culture and oriental culture. A large number of historical records and years of study on archaeology have shown that at least 8,000 years ago, Henan's ancestors were the first to create human civilization in China. During that period of more than 3,500 years from the Xia Dynasty (the first dynasty in China, in the 21st century BC) to the Jin Dynasty (in the AD 13th century), over 200 emperors of 20 dynasties founded capitals in Henan or moved their capitals here, leaving innumerable places of interest and historical spots, which today can still be visited. Under the State's protection are 96 establishments rated as "national treasures". The number of underground cultural relics in Henan province ranks the first in the country and the 1.3 million pieces of relics housed in the museums accounts for one eighth of the total of China. Among the eight ancient capitals of China, four of them were in Henan, namely Zhengzhou, Luoyang (124 kilometers to the west of Zhengzhou), Kaifeng and Anyang (about 200 kilometers to the north of Zhengzhou).
In addition, there are several historical sites and cultural cities, such as Nanyang, Shangqiu and Xunxian County. Numerous scenic spots and historical sites are not only famous for their historic and cultural connotations but also for their tourism value, such as the hometown of the Yellow Emperor (a legendary ruler of China) in Xinzheng (a city close to Zhengzhou). The Shaolin Temple in Dengfeng (82 kilometers to the west of Zhengzhou), the Mausoleum of Song Emperors in Gongyi (70 kilometers to the west of Zhengzhou), Longmen Grottoes, Baima Temple in Luoyang and the hometown of Xuan Zang (a famous monk in Tang Dynasty, who brought books of Buddhism from India to China) in Yanshi (a city close to Luoyang) are all cultural spots of interest in Henan.
For those who love history there are the Imperial Street and the Bao Gong Temple in Kaifeng (the capital of Song Dynasty), the Yinxu Museum and Youlicheng (the origin of the famous classic work — Book of Changes) in Anyang, the chariot pit of the Tombs of the Kingdom of Guo (a kingdom in Zhou Dynasty, about 2800 years ago) and Hanggu Pass in Sanmenxia. Many famous people from ancient China are honored in Henan; such as Wuhou Temple built in memory of Zhuge Liang who is regarded as a wit master in China, Zhang Heng Tomb (a great scientist in Han Dynasty), and the Temple of Zhang Zhongjing (an ancient medical sage) in Nanyang. The Tomb of Suirenshi (the discoverer of how to use fire), Huamulan Temple (a well-known heroine who took the place of her father to join the army) in Shangqiu; as well as Taihao Mausoleum in Huaiyang.
At present, new scenic spots are emerging in Zhengzhou, Luoyang and Kaifeng. Henan Museum has a rich collection and is unique for its great architecture. A great deal of rare culture relics are on display there. The Longmen Grottoes are listed as one of the world's cultural heritages. As a vivid and authentic reproduction of the great painting, Qingming Shanghe Painting (qīng míng shàng hé tú 清明上河图) of the Song Dynasty, the Qingming Garden was duplicated strictly following the painting in Kaifeng. While visiting, tourists can enjoy the scenes and the customs of the ancient city with a history of a thousand years.
Henan boasts not only abundant cultural heritage for tourism, but also unique natural scenery. The Yellow River stretches for over 700 kilometers in Henan. Traveling from the middle reach to the lower reach, we will feast our eyes on the blue ripples in Sanmenxia reservoir, the vast expanse of waving billows in the Yellow River sightseeing zone in Zhengzhou City, and the wonder of the "protruding river" whose river-bed is 14 meters above the ground of Kaifeng. The Xiaolangdi reservoir, 3 kilometers wide, 132 kilometers long, is the largest expanse of water to the north of the Yangtze River, dwarfing the surrounding mountains. Recently, such new sightseeing programs as "boating down the Yellow River" and "cruising along the Yellow River" have been developed, which are described by tourists as interesting and adventurous.