China’s third most populous province, HENAN’s modern-day industrial trappings conceal a rich history watered by the great Yellow River. The wonderful Longmen Caves lie due south of Luoyang, an ancient dynastic capital thought by the Chinese of antiquity to be the centre of the universe – it may, at one time, have been the largest city on earth. Luoyang also makes a good jumping-off point for one sight whose name, at least, is familiar to many Westerners: Shaolin Temple, home to the famed fighting monks. Henan’s modern capital, Zhengzhou, is unremarkable, but further to the east is the old city of Kaifeng, which wears its history rather better than others in the province – particularly in the form of the ancient wall still enclosing its centre.

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