Forgotten capital aims to revive past glory

Updated 2017-09-19 17:00:53 Xinhua

Before the middle of the 10th century, the city of Luoyang was already a bustling metropolis - for half of its then 3,000-year-old history it had been the capital of some 13 dynasties.

However, despite being home to six UNESCO World Heritage sites, the city in central China's Henan Province is not as well known as its western peers like Athens and Rome. The modern city landscape gives few clues of its historic past.

The often forgotten capital has been overshadowed by Xi'an, known for its Terracotta Army. But Luoyang is planning to step out of the shadows and reclaim its former glory.

Construction began in June on a massive museum located at the site of ruins from the Xia Dynasty (2070-1600 BC), with the aim of recreating scenes from more than 3,000 years ago.

It will be called the Erlitou Relic Museum and is expected to be completed in October 2019. The museum will cover about 14 hectares and cost a total of 630 million yuan (96 million U.S. dollars) to build.

The Erlitou ruins were discovered in 1959 and have been identified by archaeologists as one of the capital cities during the Xia Dynasty.

China's earliest palace complex, bronze ware workshop and road network were all found there, said Zhao Haitao from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) Erlitou archaeological team.

The museum will include technology such as 3D and virtual reality to reproduce ancient scenes, Zhao said.

The exhibits must be entertaining with impressive visual effects to capture the attention of young visitors, he added.

As one of the "Four Great Ancient Capitals of China," along with Xi'an, Beijing and Nanjing, Luoyang has ambitions to attract more local and international recognition.

The city was at its peak during Tang Dynasty (618-907), when China's only empress, Wu Zetian, moved the capital there from Chang'an, as Xi'an was then known, during her reign (690-705).

Most of Luoyang's ancient architecture has been destroyed by historical wars and the progress of modern construction.

The local government is investing billions trying to restore the grandeur of what is believed to have been world's most populous city during the Tang Dynasty.

The city government has allocated some 47 square kilometers of land in the city center, where cultural relics have been detected underground, for a plan to restore the architecture of the Sui (581-618) and Tang dynasties, said Li Ya, Party secretary of Luoyang.

A national-level cultural relics park, including a lavish reconstructed palace and pagoda built on the ancient foundations, opened to the public in 2015. The imperial garden known as Jiuzhouchi is being recreated in one corner of the park.

Luoyang has a grand plan to restore architecture along the ancient axis line, including ramparts, gates, bridges, and 103 residential complexes where renowned politicians and poets once lived.

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