Longmen Grottoes in Luoyang
The Longmen Grottoes are a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a location of extreme cultural importance located in Henan Province in China. The caves are about 12 kilometres south of Luoyang city. Here the visitor can behold two mountains covered with Buddhist sculpture and carvings. In the hillside are 2,345 niches and 44 pagodas filled with over 100,000 statues, 2,800 inscriptions and 3,600 statues or stele. Between the two mountains flows the Yi River giving the area its other name Yique or Gate of the Yi River. The Grottoes are spread along the river for a length of about 1 km. The earliest caves date to the time of the Norther Wei Dynasty (386 to 534), construction beginning in the year 493. This accounts for about one third of the caves. The majority of the, of the site dates to the Tang Dynasty (618 to 907). About 10% of the caves date to various other periods. The Longmen Grottoes is the most significant collection of Chinese art from these time periods and shows the peak of stone carving ability. Unfortunately, the statues were badly damaged during the cultural revolution of the late 20th Century.