The ancient capital of nine dynasties and the city of peonies is today a city with a largely modern face, the centre of heavy industry in Henan Province. To the south lie the famous Long men grottoes. The city stands in the centre of a fertile basin, south of the Yellow River, with the Mang Mountains to the north.
Luoyang is surrounded on the remaining three sides by mountains, with narrow passes to the east and west, which early on gained it a reputation as a place of great strategic significance. In the historical records it is stated as being one of the most populous areas of the earliest dynasties, and it is fed by four rivers -the Yi, the Luo, the Jian and the Li. It is well placed for communications since the Longhai Railway passes through and branch lines connect it with the south of the province. Luoyang is about 120km west of Zhengzhou, from where it may be reached by train or plane.
When Luoyang was liberated in 1948 the population was 80,000. The city proper covered an area of 4-5 km-, and industry was restricted to a hand-worked open mine near Longmen and some handicrafts. Luoyang was chosen as one of the key cities in the first Five Year Plan; new streets and factories were planned and erected, and full use was made of the area’s natural deposits of coal, iron and copper. Today the city covers an area of 79 km- and has a population of about half a million. Many people from Shanghai and Guangzhou have settled in Luoyang and there are now four hundred factories here, of which the machine tool and building industry is the most important; the well-known Dongfanghong tractor plant, the ball-bearing works and mining equipment plants were all established in the first Five-Year Plan. Other major products and industries include rolled steel, glass, cement and clay, building materials, textiles, fuel, metallurgy, food processing and chemicals.
Luoyang has expanded to the West Zhongzhoulu, 11 km of tree-lined boulevard, is the main commercial and administrative area. The new residential quarters are to the south. The main industrial area is now in Jianzi, to the west of the city, and new bridges have been built over the Luo River.
The major agricultural produce of the area around Luoyang includes grain and fruit – grapes, apples and pears. Luoyang is also the city of tree peonies. The peony has long been used in Chinese medicine, and was given extensive coverage in the Chinese material medica Ben Cao over 1400 years ago. Today over a hundred varieties are grown in Luoyang, and the best time of year to see them is in April in Labour Park. They range from the rare black peony to such exotic varieties as Twin Sisters – flowers of different colours on the same branch. In the Tang dynasty the poet Bai Juyi wrote, ‘For twenty days between which the flowers bloom and fall, the entire city is in ecstasy
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