Sprawling, increasingly industrial LUOYANG lies in the middle reaches of the Yellow River valley. While the drab modern city itself retains little hint of past glories, bar its astonishingly good museum, there’s plenty to see in the surrounding area and Luoyang makes a convenient hub for visiting the famed Longmen Caves, one of China’s three major rock art galleries, which lie just to the south. In addition, the city is within striking distance of several important religious complexes, including Shaolin Temple. These ancient sights hint at a rich history – Luoyang has, indeed, been occupied since Neolithic times, and served as China’s capital at various points from the Zhou dynasty through to 937 AD. Confucius once studied here, and this is where Buddhism first took root in China in 68 AD.