Longmen Cave – World Cultural Heritage in China

The caves and niches of Longmen contain the largest and most impressive collection of Chinese art from the late Northern Wei and Tang dynasties (316-907). These works, entirely devoted to the Buddhist religion, represent the pinnacle of Chinese stone carving.

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Accreditation year: 2000
Criteria: (i)(ii)(iii)
Area: 331 ha
Buffer zone: 1,042 ha
Luoyang City, Henan Province

Outstanding global value

Longmen Cave, located on both sides of the Yi River in the south of the ancient capital Luoyang, Henan Province, consists of more than 2,300 caves and niches carved into steep limestone cliffs over a 1-kilometer stretch. They contain nearly 110,000 Buddhist stone statues, more than 60 stupas, and 2,800 inscriptions on steles. Luoyang was the capital during the late Northern Wei and early Tang dynasties, and the period of most intense carving was from the late 5th to mid-8th centuries. The earliest caves were carved at the end of the century. 5th century and early 6th century in the cliffs of West Hill include Co Duong Dong and Ba Dong Tan Duong, all containing large Buddha statues. The Yaofangdong Cave contains 140 lines of inscriptions that record the treatment of various diseases.


This cave sculpture continued over a period of 150 years, illustrating the changes in art style. The styles of sculpture discovered in the Buddhist caves of the Tang dynasties in the 7th and 8th centuries, especially the giant sculptures in the Fengxiansi caves are the best examples of this. art of the Royal Cave temples, has been imitated by artists from various regions. . Two styles of sculpture, the earlier “Chinese Style” and the later “Great Tang Style” have had great influence in the country and around the world.

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Criterion (i): The sculptures in Longmen cave are outstanding expressions of human artistic creativity.

Criterion (ii): Longmen Cave exemplifies the perfection of an age-old art form that has played a very important role in the cultural development of this Asian region.

Criterion (iii): The high cultural and social sophistication of Tang China is encapsulated in the distinctive stone carvings of Longmen Cave.


The caves, stone statues, steles and inscriptions scattered in the East and West Hills in Longmen have been well preserved. The land and buffer zone preserve the natural landscape and ecological environment dating back to the late 5th century. The works of man and nature have been harmoniously unified and the landscape has high integrity.

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During the continuous development of Longmen Cave, the aesthetic elements and artistic characteristics of Chinese cave temples, including traditional layout, materials, function, technique, and location , as well as the intrinsic relationship between the layout and different elements has been preserved and adopted above. Great efforts have been made to maintain the historical appearance of the caves, while preserving and passing on the original Buddhist culture and its spiritual and aesthetic functions, and at the same time always adhere to the principle of “Maintaining historical status”.


Protection and management requirements

As one of China’s Priority State Protected Sites, Longmen Cave has received national protection under the Law of the People’s Republic of China on the Protection of Cultural Relics. Local legal instruments such as the Luoyang City Regulations on the Protection and Management of Longmen Caves have ensured the legal protection system. The Administration of the Ministry of Culture of China works with the Luoyang City Research Institute together with professional teams on protection, publicity, education and presentation for the Cave. The management agency has drafted the Longmen Cave Conservation Plan, and under this plan, research capabilities have been enhanced, including analysis of the degradation mechanism of the caves, environmental monitoring, conservation documentation and control measures. Based on the research results on tourist carrying capacity, the opening ability of the real estate sector is effectively controlled; minimize the negative impacts on the heritage caused by all kinds of adverse factors; background of protected caves; maintain a reasonable and effective balance between protection and development of the heritage site.

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Map of Longmen Cave

Video about Longmen Cave – World Cultural Heritage in China

See also: UNESCO World Cultural/Natural Heritage Sites

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