Exploring China’s Longmen Grottoes

Art galleries are not to everyone’s taste, but where do you go to get your culture fix if the likes of the Louvre and the Tate aren’t for you?

Dotted all over the world there are amazing cultural sites out in the great outdoors where people can see carvings, paintings and statues in the environments where they were meant to be displayed. It’s safe to say that few are as impressive as the Longmen Grottoes in China.

Luoyang – Boddhisatvas at Longmen Grotto

What are the Longmen Grottoes?

Dating back to the Northern Wei and Tang dynasties, the Grottoes are home to one of the greatest collections of Chinese art in the world. They’re located within the cavernous space, which was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site back in 2000.

There are approximately 100,000 statutes of Buddha, as well as other carvings and pagodas. There’s also historical materials concerning art, music, religion, calligraphy, medicine, costume and architecture stored in the caves.

Buddha Statues at Longmen Grottoes, China
Statues of Buddha at the Longmen Grottoes

How big are they?

The grottoes were started in the year 493 and measure about 1,000 metres from north to south. All in all there are around 2,300 holes and niches, 2,800 steles, 40 dagobas and 1,300 caves to explore. Certainly more rooms than any museum!

What are the recommended parts to see?

If you’ve only got a day to explore, we recommend you head for the Fengxian Temple. It contains the breathtaking Vairocana Buddha statute which measures around 17 metres in total.

It is also well worth fitting in a visit to the Wanfo Cave which contains 15,000 small Buddha statutes within its two rooms. There’s also a statue of Kwan-yin and lifelike carvings of singers and dancers which decorate the walls and ceiling.

So if you want a real cultural experience beyond museums and art galleries, make sure you include a day at the Longmen Grottoes in Luoyang on your itinerary when in China.

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