The Luoyang museum of Ancient Art is a collection of 25 underground tombs, cave paintings and burial objects for some of China’s most notable Emperors from the Wei Dynasty to the Sui and Tang Dynasties. Situated just 10km (6 miles) north of the city and next to Luoyang Beijiao Airport, this free exhibition is well worth a visit for anyone spending a few days in the city.
There are three sections to the museum; first are the tombs of the Northern Wei Dynasty (386AD – 557AD), second are the ancient tombs of other dynasties and finally wall paintings and grave frescoes that have been painstakingly restored.
Tomb of Emperor Xuanwu (483AD – 515AD) of the Northern Wei Dynasty
The largest tomb, housing Emperor Xuanwu, is set into the hillside and after entering you descend down a long corridor to the burial chamber at the bottom. Before you reach the crypt and stone coffin, two fearsome looking statues warn visitors from messing with the deceased Emperor. Unfortunately not all heeded these warnings and the grave of Xuanwu was robbed of most of its possessions before being excavated. What foul fate befell the grave robbers, we can only guess at!
Murals and Frescoes
In addition to the tombs and artefacts, many murals have been discovered beneath Luoyang dating back to the Western Han Dynasty (202BC to 9AD) and including the Wei (220AD to 266AD), Jin (266 to 420AD), Tang (618AD to 907AD), Song (960AD to 1279AD) and Yuan (1271AD to 1368AD) dynasties. The tombs include everyone from the Emperors themselves to officials, family members, concubines and civilians and the murals reflect all aspects of ancient Chinese life and legend.
I visited on a Wednesday afternoon and the place was quiet with only a handful of other Chinese visitors. The museum is a little rusty round the edges and some of the protective glass could do with a clean for better photos, but on the whole the museum and pleasant gardens are an excellent way to spend a couple of hours. Descending down into the tombs was definitely a highlight!
Entrance to the Luoyang museum:
Entrance is free but foreigners need their passport to enter and Chinese citizens must bring their identity card. An English recorded guide is available for ¥20 or tour guide for ¥100.
There is a souvenir shop that sells books, postcards, prints, snacks and drinks. I bought an English language book on the history and sights of Luoyang for ¥98 which is a little pricey but a nice memento nevertheless. Toilets are available on site.
Opening Hours: 09:00 – 16:30 (closed Mondays).
How to get to the tombs:
The museum and tombs are located next to the airport 10km north of Luoyang city centre.
Buses: Take bus 27/K27 from Mudan Square, bus 83/K83 or 98/K98 from Luoyang Railway Station. Ticket price is ¥1. Journey time 20 to 30 minutes.
Taxi: Taxi should cost no more than ¥25 (20 minutes).
About the author: Steve Rohan, originally from England, has lived in China for over six years. He has lived in the frozen city of Harbin, the ancient capital of Luoyang and now resides in the tropical paradise of Sanya on Hainan Island.
He has travelled extensively across Europe and Asia, mostly by train, and has written about his travels for this blog as well as self-publishing his first book, Siberian Odyssey.
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