The capital city of Henan Province, Zhengzhou is located in the middle of China, about 760 kilometres south of Beijing, and with a pleasant climate is welcoming all year round. Located between the upper and middle reaches of the Yellow River, this ancient and lively city is the cradle of the splendid culture of the Chinese Nation.
Zhengzhou is old, one of the eight Chinese ancient cities, but renovations and new developments of recent years have brought a fresh life to the city, making it an outstanding tourist city and well deserving of an extended visit with many sites of historical and cultural importance owing to its location at the origin of central Chinese culture. There are so many artifacts under the ground that some of the exhibits in the Zhengzhou museum were unearthed when digging the foundations for the museum itself.
The ancient city was the capital of Shang Dynasty (16th - 11th century BC) 3,500 years ago when porcelain and the Chinese technique of bronze smelting were comparatively more developed. A green ceramic glaze pot unearthed in Zhengzhou has been shown to be the most ancient porcelain in China.
The best known tourist attraction is the Shaolin Temple, which is approximately 80 kilometres southwest of downtown Zhengzhou. The Shaolin Temple is not only known as one of China's important Buddhist shrines, but also as the ancient centre of Chinese kung-fu. Built in 495, the temple was originally designed to house Batuo, a celebrated Indian monk, who, after many years of spreading Buddhism, was later known as Fo Tuo, or Grand Monk. In 537, another famous Indian monk, named Boddhidharma, settled in the temple. According to legend, he created a primitive bare-hand combat routine called "xingyi boxing" after he had sat meditating in a cave for nine years. That started the kung-fu tradition at the temple.
Another place worth a visit near Shaolin Temple is the Pagoda Forest. There are about 250 different pagodas which are the graves of every abbot of Shaolin Temple from Tang Dynasty (618 - 907) till the last. The constructions, reflecting the architectural styles of every dynasty, are now treasures of ancient Chinese brick architecture and the art of engraving.
Other famous attractions of Zhengzhou include the Song Mountain, the Yellow River and the birth place of Huangdi (recognized as the ancestor of Chinese people). Song Mountain offers extraordinary natural scenery. Its 72 mountains, grouped around the peaks of Mount Shaoshi and Mount Taishi, extend for about 70 kilometres from east to west. Besides these mountains, there are many valleys, caves, pools and waterfalls, each of which provides the visitor with a wonderful experience. The landscape is so unique that it has been given the title of 'International Geological Park' by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).
The history of Song Mountain is as rich and interesting as its landscape. Its proximity to Luoyang, the ancient capital city of nine different dynasties, made it an essential place for emperors to offer sacrifices to their ancestors and the gods, and to confer the crown to their heirs. This has left many sites of historic and cultural interest in this area.
Shang Ruins, the largest and the most well-preserved site of the capital city in early Shang Dynasty (16th - 11th century BC), is located in the Zhengzhou downtown area. It is more ancient than the Yin Xu (Yin Ruins) in Anyang. Covering an area of about 25 square kilometres, the site still has a city wall with a girth of nearly 7 kilometres. Items unearthed here include rare bronzes, shell articles, stoneware, jade articles and relics of silos, wells and graves.
Er' Qi Square, located in the centre of the downtown area, is the busiest commercial area in Zhengzhou and even Henan Province. The many department stores and restaurants should not be missed. The most eye-catching architecture on the square is the central Er' Qi Memorial Tower which commemorates a strike that happened on 7 February 1923.
Zhengzhou's most notable cultural institution is the Henan Museum, one of China's most important museums, with many impressive exhibits, which range from prehistoric times, including dinosaur bones, up through to the Qing Dynasty.
Another must-see, the Zhengzhou Zoo is located on Hua Yuan Lu and the newly built Zhengzhou Botanic Garden is at the western edge of Zhengzhou city.
Plus don't miss the extravagant water, light and music shows on display in Zheng Dong Xin Qu (New Eastern District) during the weekend.
Zhengzhou is situated to the south of the Yellow River where its valley broadens into the great plain and at the eastern extremity of the Xionger Mountains. There are 35 big and small rivers and streams, which belong to the two big water systems of the Yellow River and Huaihe River, respectively. The section of the Yellow River flowing through Zhengzhou extends 150 kilometres.
The Yellow River Scenic Area embraces five scenic spots, namely the Five Dragons Peak, the Camel Mountain Range, the Yueshan Temple, the Stone Figures of Yandi and Huangdi, and the Ancient City of Liu Bang and Xiang Yu. Among them, the Five Dragons Peak is the central area. There are parklands, clear waters, pavilions, and scattered historical statues, and with more than 20 years of development, the scenic area is now a national tourist destination with modern amusement facilities.
Zhengzhou Confucius Temple, initially built in the Eastern Han Dynasty 1900 years ago, is one of the oldest Confucius Temples in China. Other important architectural heritage in the city includes the Remains of the Shang Dynasty, Town God Temple, and the remains of the Shang Dynasty capital city (3,600 years ago) in Zhengzhou's east side located around Shangcheng lu.
The night view of the city is a sparkling one. You can hear the singing of the city at Er' Qi Square with a music fountain. Dining options abound from Liyu Sanchi, Zhengzhou's traditional dish from a local street vendor to restaurants offering the best in international cuisine. In addition, discos, bars, clubs, cinemas and other entertainment venues will offer you plenty of enjoyment.
With its abundance of historical sites and its rich culture, new malls and friendly people, Zhengzhou will offer an authentic Chinese experience.