Luoyang, Henan Province -- Page 2

History of the City of Luoyang (Translation -- North of the Luo River)

For the two thousand years that preceded the fall of the Tang Dynasty, Luoyang was one of China's two great cities, rivaled only by Xi'an. A settlement since Neolithic times, Luoyang developed into a small city by the end of the 2nd millennium BC. The Zhou emperors resided there from 770 BC onwards, and although the sovereign's power declined over the centuries, Luoyang did not. Its population by the end of the 3rd century BC approached half a million.

Under the Qin and Western Han dynasties Luoyang ceded center stage to Xi'an, but in 25 AD the Han Emperors returned to Luoyang and greatly enlarged the town. The Han city, located east of the White Horse Temple, soon became a center of learning as well as commerce, and tens of thousands of students flocked to the huge Central University. But in the decades following the fall of the Han in 220, hordes of nomadic invaders brought chaos to northern China and Luoyang was a primary target. The city was sacked in 311 and again five years later, and contemporary accounts of its devastation likened it to a vast garbage dump. The Toba armies eventually brought peace and established the Northern Wei Dynasty; in 494, they moved their capital from Datong to a rejuvenated Luoyang. It was the Wei who initiated the famous rock carving on the cliffs near the city. Luoyang continued to prosper, and according to a contemporary account, had 1,367 Buddhist temples and 10,000 households of foreign traders. When the Wei Dynasty fell, however, their city was completely destroyed.

In the early 7th century, under the direction of the Sui emperor Yang-ti, a new metropolis was laid out that surpassed the old in grandeur. Its perimeter, which encompassed what is now called the Old Town together with much of the land to the south, was over 16 miles in length and contained nearly a million inhabitants. There were tree main markets, one of which sprawled over several square miles and contained over 3,000 shops. Many of the merchants who traded there came from abroad, and 400 inns were built to accommodate them.

Although Chang'an was the seat of empire for most of the Tang Dynasty, Luoyang continued to flourish until the dynasty ended, after which it rapidly declined. By the 1920s, it had only 20,000 inhabitants. Since 1949, it has become a heavy industrial base, best known for its tractor factory, with a burgeoning population currently estimated at 900,000.