Travel guide to Zhengzhou, China

Zhengzhou is not a bad choice for your China vacations. It is the capital city of Henan Province, and an important railway hub on the Beijing-Guangzhou and Xi’an-Shanghai rail lines. It is home to the national grain wholesale market and a new high-tech science park. Along with its modern economic position, Zhengzhou played a key role in China’s early civilization as the site of an early Shang dynasty walled city some 3,500 years ago. Here and at nearby Anyang China’s early bronze industry developed for military and ritual use, and remains of the ancient Shang city foundations and wall are still visible on the outskirts of town.

Situated south of the Yellow River and east of the Songshan River, Zhengzhou was one of China’s earliest cities, thought to have been the second capital of the Shang dynasty some 3,500 years ago. Archaeological sites around Zhengzhou have yielded abundant Neolithic pottery and technologically early forms of the bronze ritual vessels and weaponry that were defining elements of Shang material culture.

Zhengzhou’s status as a transport and economic center has roots as far back as the Sui and Tang periods (late 6th to early 10th century), when canals connected Zhengzhou’s grain markets to the Yellow River. Zhengzhou’s importance declined along with nearby Luoyang after the Song established their capital at Kaifeng to the east. Zhengzhou emerged as a transportation hub again in the 20th century with the building of railroad lines.  It played an important role in the railroad “Strike of February 7” in 1923, and has become one of Asia’s most important freight transfer hubs.

Zhengzhou Named As China’s Eighth Ancient City

China Radio International, Nov. 8, 2004 – The 3,600-year-old city of Zhengzhou, capital city of central China’s Henan Province, has been added to China’s list of ancient cities, bringing the number to eight. (You should know some Chinese history if you are planning your China vacations now.)The other seven cities are Xi’an, Beijing, Nanjing, Luoyang, Kaifeng, and Anyang in Henan as well as Hangzhou, capital of the southeastern Zhejiang province. As early as 3,500 years ago, it became the capital of the Shang Dynasty (Sixteenth – eleventh centuries B.C.) which together with ancient Egypt, India, and Babylon, was considered to be one of the oldest civilizations of the world. Today cultural relics and historical sites abound in and around the city, attracting more and more tourists and archaeologists both from China and abroad. At Anyang, a town to the north of Zhengzhou, tourists can visit ruins of the Shang Dynasty.

Baiyun Mountain

CRI English, Mar. 30, 2006 – To many people’s great surprise, the little-known Baiyun Mountain, located in central China’s Henan Province, was crowned “the most beautiful mountain in China” by readers and the media in Chinese National Geography magazine’s “Top 10 Most Beautiful Tourist Attractions in China” in late 2005.

Zhengzhou — Green City (Good news for a traveller’s China vacations)
( Zhengzhou, located in the Central China plain with the Yellow River to the north and Mount Songshan to the west, is the capital of Henan Province. At the junction of the Beijing-Guangzhou and Lanzhou-Lianyungang railways, it is also the political, economic, cultural, and transportation center of Henan. Zhengzhou is one of the most important textile centers in China, as well as having a well-developed machinery industry.

Zhengzhou has a long history. As early as 3,500 years ago, it became the capital of the Shang Dynasty (Sixteenth – eleventh centuries B.C.) which together with ancient Egypt, India, and Babylon, was considered to be one of the oldest civilizations of the world. Today cultural relics and historical sites abound in and around the city, attracting more and more tourists and archaeologists both from China and abroad. At Anyang, a town to the north of Zhengzhou, tourists can visit ruins of the Shang Dynasty.

With its lush foliage, Zhengzhou is China’s model for the planting of trees in urban areas and is therefore called the “green city.”

Henan Provincial Museum of History (You can visit some museums for you China vacations)

This museum in downtown Zhengzhou displays over a thousand cultural relics from Henan Province, together with photographic exhibits. In the exhibition hall, there is a miniature representation of an ancient city, believed to be 3,500 years old, whose ruins were unearthed in Zhengzhou in 1955. It presents a vivid picture of our ancestors smelting metals, making pottery, and polishing bone tools during the Bronze Culture of the Shang Dynasty.

Ruins at Dahe Village

In the autumn of 1964, a site of 300,000 square meters representing the Yangshan and Longshan cultures of the Neolithic Period was discovered at Dahe Village in the northern suburbs of Zhengshou. The ruins of house foundations, dating back five thousand years, show separate inner and outer rooms – indicating that group marriage probably no longer existed and that families in which young couples lived separately from their parents had appeared.

Ruins of an Ancient City of the Shang Dynasty

These ruins cover an area of twenty-five square kilometers in downtown Zhengzhou. In 1955, a city wall of seven kilometers was discovered on the site. Archaeologists have found ruins of house foundations, cellars, water wells, ditches, and graves. Ornaments and tools made of bronze, stone, bone, shell, and jade were found on the site, as well as pottery and primitive china. Outside the walls, the ruins of various workshops were discovered, among which were foundries for smelting bronze and workshops for making pottery and for polishing bone articles.

These archaeological finds in Zhengzhou provide valuable materials for the study of Shang Dynasty society, particularly with regard to the formation and development of ancient cities in China.

Ancient Tomb at Dahu Pavilion (Attractions for your China vacations)

One of the largest graves of the Han Dynasty (206 B.C. – A.D. 220) can be found in suburban Zhengzhou. It is a brick and stone structure in the shape of a covered boat. In addition to the main hall where the coffin was placed, there were a west, a middle, and a small dist room. The walls and ceilings of the grave chambers are covered with paintings and stone carvings that reflect the life of the deceased. Depicting such scenes as rent collection, cooking and dining, hunting, traveling in carts and on horseback, and singing and dancing, they provide valuable data for historical research into the politics, culture, and economy of the Eastern Han Dynasty.

February 7 Memorial Towers

These twin towers, sixty-three meters high, stand in the center of the city. They have three levels at the bottom and nine levels on the upper structure. They were built in memory of a railway worker’s strike that started in Zhengzhou on February 4, 1923, and spread to the entire Beijing-Hankou line. On February 7, Wu Peifu, a warlord, ordered his soldiers to fire on the strikers, killing several Chinese Communist Party members and trade union leaders.

Mangshan Park

Situated to the north of Zhengzhou, this scenic park on Mangshan Mountain affords a bird’s-eye view of the Yellow River. The mountain, which stretches from Zhengzhou in the east to Luoyang in the west, is part of the Qinling Range and forms a natural barrier between Zhengzhou and the river. This densely wooded mountain beside the Yellow River has attracted many famous writers and poets throughout Chinese history.

Mount Songshan (A must see for the Kung fu fans’ China vacations)

Driving southwestward from Zhengzhou for an hour and a half will bring you to Mount Songshan. Its peak, towering 1,550 meters above sea level, is the highest of the twenty-two peaks of the Funiu Range.

Songshan rises from the Central China Plain; being the middle-most of the five sacred mountains of China, it is sometimes also called Central Mountain. It contains many scenic spots and places of historical interest, of which Shaolin Monastery, the Songyang School of Classical Learning, the Han Imperial Palaces, Star Observatory Terrace (Guanxingtai), and Stone Streams-Confluence (Shizonghuiyin) are the best known.

Shaolin Monastery (Shaolin temple! A dream for all the kung fu fans’ China vacations)

The monastery at the foot of Wuru Peak on the northern slope of Shaoshi Mountain was originally built in 495 during the Northern Wei Dynasty (386-534). It is known as the “most famous temple under heaven, ” for it was here that, in 527, the Indian monk Bodhi Dharma (or Dharma) founded the Chan sect of Buddhism in China. Since Dharma was regarded as the ancestor of the Chan sect, the Shaolin Monastery was called Zuting – the Ancestor’s Home. The existing buildings today date mostly from the Ming (1368 – 1644) and Qing (1644 -1 911) dynasties. The temple occupies an area of thirty thousand square meters. Its principal building, Thousand Buddha Hall (Qianfodian), contains colorful murals, one of which, depicting five hundred arhats engaged in martial arts, is said to have been painted by the great painter Wu Daozi of the Tang Dynasty (618-907).

During the early years of the Tang Dynasty, the monks in Shaolin Monastery helped Emperor Tai Zong, Li Shimin, to establish his rule in China. They practiced a style of martial art that took its name from the temple – the famous Shaolin Boxing.

Pagoda Forest

To the west of Shaolin Monastery is the cemetery where the monks of the monastery were buried. More than 220 memorial pagodas of brick and stone, in various styles and shapes, were built here from the Tang to the Qing dynasties. These pagodas are valuable relics for the study of China’s ancient brick and stone architecture and sculpture.

Central Mountain Temple (Zhongyuemiao)

At the foot of Mount Huanggai, occupying an area of 100,000 square meters, this temple was originally built during the Qin Dynasty (221-207 B.C.). The architectural style of its central hall is very similar to that of the Hall of Supreme Harmony in Beijing’s Forbidden City. The temple houses four large iron statues supposed to be guardians. They were cast in the Song Dynasty. The three hundred-odd cypress trees in the temple compound have lived more than a thousand years.

The grand Central Mountain Hall, with its scarlet walls and golden tiles, stands in the midst of many other palaces, chambers, pavilions, and corridors.

Songyang School of Classical Learning

One of the four most famous ancient schools of classical learning in China is located to the south of Central Mountain Temple. The simple buildings house many historical relics. In the courtyard, there are two cypress trees more than 1,900 years old; their trunks are so thick that five people with arms fully extended can barely form a ring around them. It is said that these trees were named “cypress generals” by Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty (206 B.C. – A.D. 220).

Rooster Mountain (Jigongshan)

Located at the Wusheng Pass on the border of Hubei and Henan provinces, Jigong Mountain attracts tourists and summer vacationers with its beautiful scenery and pleasant climate. In mid-summer, when temperatures in the surrounding areas reach 40℃ (104℉), the average temperature at Jigong Mountain is a comfortable 24ºC (75ºF). The highest peak of Jigong Mountain is 784 meters above sea level and has the shape of a crouching rooster facing south, from which it got the name Baoxiaofeng-Crowing Rooster Peak.

There are many scenic spots on the mountain, including the Ladder to Heaven (Tianti), and the Lotus Pavilion (Hehuating). To meet the needs of an increasing number of tourists, service facilities have been improved in recent years. (