Situated on the
southern bank of the Yellow River, Kaifeng is an important city in
With a recorded history close to 3,000 years, Kaifeng is known as
one of the six major centers of ancient Chinese civilization. As
early as the Yin-Shang period (1334-1066 B.C.), when Chinese society
turned away from nomadic life to an agricultural existence, a city
was built there. It then became the capital of the Kingdom of Wei in
the Warring Sates Period (475-331 B.C.), the Liang, Han and Zhou
dynasties of the five Dynasties (907-960), the Northern Song Dynasty
(960-1137) and the Jin Dynasty (1115-1334). The Northern Song, in
particular, established its capital in Kaifeng for 168 years.
The Eastern Capital, as
Kaifeng was then called, was the political, economic and cultural center
of the whole country, with well-developed handicrafts, bustling commerce
and fine communication facilities. An old saying went that "Kaifeng was
unsurpassed anywhere in splendor and prosperity".
Repeated Yellow River floods, however, caused damage to the ancient
capital of Kaifeng through the years. Many of its historical relics were
destroyed. Among those that have survived are the "Iron" Pagoda, Pota
Pagoda, Dragon Pavilion, Xiangguo Monastery, King Yu's Terrace and
Yanqing Taoist Temple. These are all fine works of architecture. Their
majestic beauty bears testimony to the wisdom and the cultural and
artistic standards their creators attained.
The city today has well-developed commerce, transport, communications
and educational facilities, and medical and public health services. The
Yellow River that flooded its banks and wrought havoc for a thousand
years has been harnessed. The Liuyuan Ferry at Kaifeng is now open to
tourists as a scenic
It might be hard to believe. But there is indeed a large Jewish
community in Kaifeng. The ancestors of these Jews were said to have
arrived in China from Persia and India during the Tang Dynasty.
For centuries, the Jews of Kaifeng uttered the prescribed daily and
Sabbath prayers, kept their religious holidays and observed strict
Kaifeng was the Song Dynasty capital for many years. Ask your guide to
take you to the "Song City", a street flanked by small shops and taverns
a thousand years ago.
The street is now under reconstruction on the old Imperial Street
between the ancient imperial palace and another street called Sihoujie.
The palace has already been restored, and is open to the public. And
another major part of the street, Xuandemen, will soon be completed.