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Situated on the southern bank of the Yellow River, Kaifeng is an important city in Henan Province. With a recorded history close to 3,000 years, Kaifeng was known as one of the six major centers of ancient Chinese civilization. As early as the Yin-Shang period (1334-1066 B.C.), when Chinese society turned away from nomadic life to an agricultural existence, a city was built there. It then became the capital of the Kingdom of Wei in the Warring Sates Period (475-331 B.C.), the Liang, Han and Zhou dynasties of the five Dynasties (907-960), the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1137) and the Jin Dynasty (1115-1334). The Northern Song, in particular, established its capital in Kaifeng for 168 years. The Eastern Capital, as Kaifeng was then called, was the political, economic and cultural center of the whole country,
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with well-developed handicrafts, bustling commerce and fine communication facilities. An old saying went that "Kaifeng was unsurpassed anywhere in splendor and prosperity".
Repeated Yellow River floods, however, caused damage to the ancient capital of Kaifeng through the years. Many of its historical relics were destroyed. Among those that have survived are the "Iron" Pagoda, Pota Pagoda, Dragon Pavilion, Xiangguo Monastery, King Yu's Terrace and Yanqing Taoist Temple. These are all fine works of architecture. Their majestic beauty bears testimony to the wisdom, the cultural and artistic standards their creators attained. The city today has well-developed commerce, transport, communications and educational facilities, and medical and public health services. The Yellow River that flooded its banks and wrought havoc for a thousand years has been harnessed. The Liuyuan Ferry at Kaifeng is now open to tourists as a scenic spot.

City of Song Dynasty

Kaifeng was the Song Dynasty capital for many years. The "Song City" is a street flanked by small shops and taverns a thousand years ago. The street has been taken a reconstruction on pattern of the old Imperial Street between the ancient imperial palace and another street called Sihoujie. The palace has already been restored, and is open to the public. And another major part of the street, Xuandemen, has been built in the recent years. The City of Song Dynasty is now one of the most popular tourist scenic spots built for the visitors to get a familiar impression of the scene of the old days.

Iron Pagoda

Standing on a hill, north of the Henan University in the northeastern part of the city, the pagoda was first built in 982 (during the Song Dynasty). It is a Buddhist pagoda where the finger bone of a dignitary is kept. The pagoda, made of an entire timber frame, was kept in Kaibao Temple when it was originally built. Later in 1049, the surface of the pagoda was covered with iron-colored glazed tiles and it gained the name Iron Pagoda. The temple was renamed several times in the successive periods and was finally pulled down during the Qing Dynasty. The thirteen-story pagoda rises to about sixty meters with an entire timber frame interior. On the brick basement are exquisite carved patterns of animals, Buddhist motifs and flora. It has stood for over 900 years and remains intact. A park has been built for the pagoda to which several halls and temples have been added. It provides a good venue for the appreciation of Chinese carvings, inscriptions and color-painted statues.
Dragon Pavilion At northwest of the city, the Dragon Pavilion is a palatial hall built on a thirteen-meter-high marble terrace. During the Song and Jin dynasties, this was the site of imperial palaces. In the Ming period, an official's residence with garden was constructed. Inside the pavilion are enshrined the emperor's tablets. Two dragons playing with a pearl are carved on a plaque on the pavilion, hence the name, Dragon Pavilion. It became an important place for local and official ceremonies and festivities. Another hall was added during the reign of Qing Yongzheng. The great hall features traditional Chinese temple architectural style on a marble terrace. Stone tablets exhibited in the hall bear Chinese calligraphic inscriptions. Wax figures and portraits of Song emperors are also on display. From the hall, a short distance walk will bring you to Wuchao Gate, the site of the imperial palace of the Song Dynasty.

Yellow River

The Yellow River, or Huanghe, is the second longest river in China. Tracing to a source high up the majestic Yagradagze mountain in the nation's far west, it loops north, bends south, and flows east for 5,464 km until it empties into the sea, draining a basin of 745,000 sq km, which nourishes 120 million people. Millennia ago the Chinese civilization emerged from the central region of this basin. As the most heavily silt-laden river in the world, the Yellow River got its name from the muddiness of its water, which bears a perennial ochre-yellow color. The river is commonly divided into three stages. In the upper reaches, the river runs through mountainous and arid regions for 3,472 km, ending at Hekouzhen of Inner Mongolia just before it makes a sharp turn to the south.
In the middle reaches, ending at Zhengzhou in Henan province, the river flows south between the Shaanxi and Shanxi Provinces, draining a basin consisting largely of thick deposits of unmodified aeolian loess which is eroded readily by rainfall and wind and accounts for over 90 per cent of the sediment in the main channel downstream. After traversing a 1,206-km course from Hekouzhen to Zhengzhou, the river emerges from narrow mountainous constrictions onto a flat alluvial plain shortly following a sharp turn to the east. The river descends from an altitude of 4,575 m above sea level at the source to 1,000 m at Hekouzhen and 400 m at Zhengzhou. In the lower reaches, from Zhengzhou to sea for a distance of 786 km, the river is confined to a levee-lined course as it flows northeasterly across the North China plain before emptying into the Gulf of Bohai.

Jewish Community

It might be hard to believe. But there is indeed a large Jewish community in Kaifeng. The ancestors of these Jews were said to have arrived in China from Persia and India during the Tang Dynasty. For centuries, the Jews of Kaifeng uttered the prescribed daily and Sabbath prayers, kept their religious holidays and observed strict diets.

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