The city of Kaifeng, formerly known variously as Bianliang, Bianjing/ Dongjing, Daliang, and simply Liang, is located near the entranceway to Henan Province's "panhandle", the northern chunk of the province that is wedged between Shanxi Province to the west, Hebei Province to the north, and Shandong Province to the east, is also located some 50 kilometers due east of the provincial capital city of Zhengzhou. Kaifeng is one of "twenty-four historical and cultural cities" announced by the Chinese Government, and one of the seven ancient capitals of China.
Under various names and construction vintages, the city was the capital of several dynasties, beginning with the tiny state of Wei (BCE 445-225) during the Warring States (BCE 475-221) Period, and ending with the overthrow of the Song (CE 960-1279) Dynasty by invading Jurchens (forebears of the Manchus), who established the Jin (CE 1115-1234) Dynasty. However, the city served as the "second capital" to the Jurchens, and in fact, both Ming (CE 1368-1644) and Qing (CE 1644-1911) Dynasty emperors recognized the cultural importance of Kaifeng, and took steps to rebuild or restore the city.
Present-day Kaifeng, a prefecture-level city of some 800,000 residents, offers both cultural-historical highlights as well as a rare natural beauty. The city is laid out in a pattern typical of the ancient cities of Han China, with a central axis that has been preserved in spite of successive rounds of urbanization over the past 2700 years. It is also a city that incorporates water, both for good and for bad (there was much flooding in the city's past, notably by overflows from the nearby Huang He ("Yellow River")), being a part of the Yellow River flood plain, to which the city also owes its lush greenery. The city's rich cultural history lies buried in successive layers below present-day Kaifeng, occasionally coming to light when new construction projects permit archeological excavations. Among the many sightseeing highlights of the city of Kaifeng are Dragon Pavilion Park, Da Xiangguo Temple, the Yang Family Mansion, Yanqing Temple, Temple of Lord Bao, Kaifeng Synagogue and the Iron Pagoda.
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