Beijing Getaways: Kaifeng 开封
Weathered Wonders: Experience the Regal and Resilient Charm of Henan's Kaifeng
Known in Chinese as the "Capital of Seven Dynasties", Kaifeng is a sleepy, enchanting city, yet to be remolded by the breakneck development which epitomizes much of China today. Situated near the Yellow River in central Henan, the city's zenith was during the Northern Song Dynasty (AD 960-1126) when it was called Dongjing (East Capital). During its 2,700-year history Kaifeng has been no stranger to tragedy and destruction. Additionally floods, invasions and dynastic disintegration have all taken their toll on local architecture. Today the city's numerous highlights are mostly half-destroyed ruins or recently erected memorials to more auspicious eras.
The best place to get acquainted quickly with Kaifeng is the city's Tourism Center on Yingbin Lu - here you can pick up an English map and get advice on sights, events and accommodation. Kaifeng's most famous landmark is the Iron Pagoda (Tie Ta) in the northeastern corner of the city. A beautiful 11th century structure, it is actually made of bricks, with exterior glazed tiles giving off a metallic sheen. The Temple of the Chief Minister (Da Xiangguo Si) is also a must-see. Rebuilt in 1766 after a flood in 1642, this Buddhist shrine's main attraction is a four-sided wooden statue of Avalokitesvara.
At the northern end of Songdu Yujie (Imperial Street of the Song Dynasty) is the picturesque Dragon Pavilion Park (Long Ting Gongyuan), once the exclusive preserve of emperors and now great for a relaxing afternoon stroll. West of the park is the snappily-named Festival of Pure Brightness on the River Park (Qingming Shanghe Yuan), with reconstructed Song Dynasty buildings and daily performances. Head south from the park to reach Kaifeng's spectacular 18th-century Qianlong Guild Hall (Shanshangan Huiguan).
Kaifeng is the place to get better acquainted with Chinese snack and street food.
Check out the aptly named Number One Dumpling Restaurant (Diyilou Baozi Guan) on Sihou Jie - the xiaolong bao (small pork dumplings) are a taste sensation, and a smart (and cheap) way to warm up on a cold winter's day.
Xinsheng Meishiyuan on Gulou Jie is another budget eatery offering noodles, kebabs, stir fries, pastries and snacks. Come dinner time the night market on Sihou Jie serves up local delicacies such as wuxian shaobing (five-spice roasted bread), all manner of chuar (kebabs) and awesome zhima duowei tang (sesame soup).
With such great food for mind and body, it's no surprise that Kaifeng's inhabitants are so proud of their city that has endured time's many tests.
Last but not least...
Book Hotel Accommodation in Kaifeng