Longmen Grottoes

Named a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site in 2000, the Longmen Grottoes were founded 3200 years ago. Over 2100 grottoes are home to more than 100,000 images of Buddha and his disciples, which have been painstakingly carved into the cliffs. This extraordinary act of love and dedication is made all the more impressive when you imagine the sorts of rudimentary tools that would have been used to create it. The site represents a zenith in Chinese stone carving art and comprises the largest collection of Chinese Buddhist art of the Northern Wei and Tang Dynasties (316-907). The carvings flank both sides of the mountains along the Yi River. Walkways and stairs guide you to reachable grottoes so you can peer inside at the carvings. There are several famous "not to be missed" grottoes including the Three Binyang Caves, Ten Thousand Buddha Cave, Lotus Flower Cave and the Fengxian Temple (Ancestor Worshipping Temple) where the largest sculptures sit. Sadly, most of the smaller Buddhist statues were stolen by Western visitors, with around 800 of the finest pieces stolen in the 1930s alone. 

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