Kaifeng (simplified Chinese: 开封; traditional Chinese: 開封),
known previously by several names, is a prefecture-level city in
east-central Henan, China. It was once the capital of the Song
dynasty, and is one of the Eight Ancient Capitals of China.
There are currently nearly 5 million people living in its metropolitan
area. Located along the southern bank of the Yellow River, it borders
the provincial capital of
Zhengzhou to the west,
Xinxiang to the
Shangqiu to the east,
Zhoukou to the southeast,
the southwest, and
Shandong to the northeast.
5.4 Light rail
5.5 Road transport
7 Sporting events
7.1 Zheng-Kai International Marathon
10 International relations
10.1 Twin towns—Sister cities
11 Colleges and universities
12 See also
14 Further reading
15 External links
The postal romanization for the city is "Kaifeng". Its official
one-character abbreviation in Chinese is 汴 (Biàn). Historically it
has also been known as
Dàliáng (Chinese: 大梁)
Biànliáng (Chinese: 汴梁)
Biànzhōu (Chinese: 汴州)
Nánjīng (Chinese: 南京)
Dōngjīng (Chinese: 東京)
Biànjīng (Chinese: 汴京)
The name "Kaifeng" first appeared as the area's name after the Qin's
China in the second century BC and literally means "expand
the borders" and figuratively "hidden" and "vengeance". Its name
was originally Qifeng (啓封), but the syllable qi was changed to the
essentially synonymous kai to avoid the naming taboo of Liu Qi
(Emperor Jing of Han).
The prefecture-level city of
Kaifeng administers five districts and
Gulou District (鼓楼区)
Longting District (龙亭区)
Yuwangtai District (禹王台区)
Xiangfu District (祥符区)
Shunhe Hui District (顺河回族区)
Weishi County (尉氏县)
Qi County (杞县)
Tongxu County (通许县)
Lankao County (兰考县)
The famous painting
Along the River During the Qingming Festival
Along the River During the Qingming Festival is
believed by some to portray life in
Kaifeng on Qingming Festival.
Several versions exist – the above is an 18th-century recreation –
of an original attributed to the 12th-century artist Zhang Zeduan.
The city of
Kaifeng (Dongjing, Bianliang) in Northern Song Dynasty
Kaifeng is one of the Eight Ancient Capitals of China. As with
Beijing, there have been many reconstructions during its history.
In 364 BC during the Warring States period, the State of Wei founded a
city called Daliang (大梁) as its capital in this area. During this
period, the first of many canals in the area was constructed linking a
local river to the Yellow River. When the State of Wei was conquered
by the State of Qin,
Kaifeng was destroyed and abandoned except for a
mid-sized market town, which remained in place.
Early in the 7th century,
Kaifeng was transformed into a major
commercial hub when it was connected to the Grand Canal as well as
through the construction of a canal running to western Shandong.
In 781 during the Tang dynasty, a new city was reconstructed and named
Bian (汴). Bian was the capital of the Later Jin (936–946), Later
Han (947–950), and
Later Zhou (951–960) of the Five Dynasties and
Ten Kingdoms period. The
Song dynasty made Bian its capital when it
Later Zhou in 960. Shortly afterwards, the city
underwent further expansion.
During the Song, when it was known as Dongjing or Bianjing, Kaifeng
was the capital, with a population of over 400,000 living both inside
and outside the city wall.
Typhus was an acute problem in the city.
The historian Jacques Gernet provides a lively picture of life in this
period in his Daily Life in
China on the Eve of the Mongol Invasion,
1250-1276, which often draws on Dongjing Meng Hua Lu, a nostalgic
memoir of the city of Kaifeng.
In 1049, the Youguosi Pagoda (佑國寺塔) – or
Iron Pagoda as it
is called today – was constructed measuring 54.7 metres
(179 ft) in height. It has survived the vicissitudes of war and
floods to become the oldest landmark in this ancient city. Another
Song-dynasty pagoda, Po Tower (zh), dating from 974, has been
Games in the Jinming Pool, an early 12th-century painting depicting
Kaifeng, by Zhang Zeduan.
Another well-known sight was the astronomical clock tower of the
engineer, scientist, and statesman
Su Song (1020–1101 AD). It was
crowned with a rotating armillary sphere that was
hydraulically-powered (i.e. by water wheel and a water clock), yet it
incorporated an escapement mechanism two hundred years before they
were found in the clockworks of
Europe and featured the first known
endless power-transmitting chain drive.
Kaifeng reached its peak importance in the 11th century when it was a
commercial and industrial center at the intersection of four major
canals. During this time, the city was surrounded by three rings of
city walls and probably had a population of between 600,000 and
700,000. It is believed that
Kaifeng was the largest city in the world
from 1013 to 1127.
This period ended in 1127 when the city fell to Jurchen invaders
during the Jingkang Incident. It subsequently came under the rule of
the Jurchen Jin dynasty, which had conquered most of North China
during the Jin–Song Wars. While it remained an important
administrative center, only the city area inside the inner city wall
of the early Song remained settled and the two outer rings were
One major problem associated with
Kaifeng as the imperial capital of
the Song was its location. While it was conveniently situated along
the Grand Canal for logistic supply,
Kaifeng was militarily vulnerable
due to its position on the floodplains of the Yellow River.
Kaifeng served as the Jurchen "southern capital" from 1157 (other
sources say 1161) and was reconstructed during this time. The
Jurchen kept their main capital further north until 1214 when they
were forced to move the imperial court southwards to
Kaifeng in order
to flee from the onslaught of the Mongols. In 1232 they succumbed to
the combined Mongol and Song forces in the Mongol siege of Kaifeng.
Mongols captured the city, and in 1279 they conquered all of
East Market Street, Kaifeng, 1910. The synagogue of the
lay beyond the row of stores on the right
At the beginning of the
Ming dynasty in 1368,
Kaifeng was made the
Kaifeng was flooded by the Ming army with water from the
Yellow River to prevent the peasant rebel
Li Zicheng from taking over.
After this disaster, the city was abandoned again.
In 1662, during the reign of the
Kangxi Emperor in the Qing dynasty,
Kaifeng was rebuilt. However, further flooding occurred in 1841
followed by another reconstruction in 1843, which produced the
Kaifeng as it stands today.
Kaifeng is also known for having the oldest extant Jewish community in
In 1969, the former President of the People's Republic of China, Liu
Shaoqi, died from medical neglect while under house arrest in Kaifeng.
Kaifeng has a monsoon-influenced humid subtropical climate (Köppen
Cwa) that borders on a humid continental climate, with four distinct
seasons. Winters are cool and mostly dry while summers are hot and
humid; spring is warm and sees some, but not much rainfall, while
autumn weather is crisp and drier.
Precipitation mainly occurs from
June to September.
Climate data for
Record high °C (°F)
Average high °C (°F)
Daily mean °C (°F)
Average low °C (°F)
Record low °C (°F)
Average precipitation mm (inches)
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.1 mm)
Source: Weather China
Kaifeng is about 55 km (34 mi) away from Zhengzhou
Xinzheng International Airport – which has domestic connections to
more than 20 cities.
China Eastern and
China Southern Airlines also
provide some international connections directly from Zhengzhou.
Kaifeng Railway Station is on the East-West
Longhai Railway mainline
and provides convenient access to many cities around China, including
Beijing West, Shanghai, Shanghai Hongqiao, Tianjin, Xi'an, Jinan,
Hangzhou. Services to Zhengzhou,
Qingdao are also frequent
and convenient. Direct long distance services to Shenzhen, Guangzhou,
Chengdu, Chongqing North, Harbin, Ürümqi, Fuzhou, Dalian and Wuhan
are also available.
Kaifeng North Railway Station of the
Zhengzhou–Xuzhou High-Speed Railway
Zhengzhou–Xuzhou High-Speed Railway started operation on 10
There are 4 main coach stations in Kaifeng:
Kaifeng West Coach Station (开封客运西站)
Kaifeng Long-Distance Coach Station (开封长途汽车站)
Kaifeng Jinming Coach Station (开封金明汽车站)
Kaifeng Xiangguosi Coach Station (开封相国寺汽车站)
There are frequent services to many neighbouring counties, other
provincial cities and longer-distance services to other provinces.
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The Zhengkai Intercity Railway (郑开城际铁路), also popularly
known as the
Kaifeng Light Rail (郑开轻轨) started
operating in 2014. The total length of the railway is 50.3 km
(31.3 mi), connecting the provincial capital
Kaifeng, with a projected future extension to a total of 57.4 km
(35.7 mi). The initial phase of the project has 5 stations in
total constructed along the track, of which 3 are within the city
Zhengzhou and 2 within the city boundary of Kaifeng. It is
double tracked, with a designed top speed capability of 200 km/h
(120 mph). It is currently scheduled to provide an initial
service frequency of about 4tph with projected increase according to
actual demand. Total journey time is not more than 30 minutes.
China National Highway 220
Kaifeng is known for having the oldest extant Jewish community in
One of Kaifeng's many women's mosques.
It also has a significant
Muslim enclave and is notable for its many
women's mosques (nǚsì), including the oldest nǚsì in China:
Wangjia Hutong Women's Mosque, which dates to 1820.
There are also some active Christian churches, like Sacred-Heart of
Kaifang cathedral (开封耶稣圣心主教座堂).
Kaifeng cuisine plays a dominant part in forming
Kaifeng offers a wide range of food specialities such as steaming pie
and dumplings. In the evening, Kaifeng's streets turn into restaurants
while hundreds open their stands and begin selling their food in the
famous night market. Often people from the nearby
Zhengzhou come to
Kaifeng to spend an evening with their family, as the atmosphere is
very appealing. Particularly famous is Kaifeng's five-spice bread
(wǔxiāng shāobǐng), which, like pita, can be opened and filled.
Ma Yu Ching's Bucket Chicken House (Chinese: 马豫兴桶子鸡;
pinyin: Mǎ Yùxīng Tǒngzi Jī), located in Kaifeng, China, is by
some accounts the world's oldest restaurant.
The chrysanthemum is the city flower of Kaifeng. The tradition of
cultivating different varieties of chrysanthemums stretches all the
way back 1600 years, and the scale reached a phenomenal level during
Song dynasty until its loss to the Jürchens in 1126.
The city has held the
Chrysanthemum Cultural Festival since
Chrysanthemum Cultural Festival in 1994).
The festival has been a yearly feature since, taking place between 18
October and 18 November every year.
The festival reached another milestone in 2012, when it celebrated the
30th birthday. The opening ceremony was broadcast live on Henan
Satellite TV Channel (HNTV) at the evening prime slot on 18 October
2012, which has a coverage of all Chinese cities of or above the
prefecture-level classification in the Chinese administrative
During the festival, chrysanthemums of hundred different types will
not only be on show in all festival venues, but they become common
features all around the city itself -
Kaifeng truly becomes the "city
Zheng-Kai International Marathon
China Zheng-Kai International Marathon
(中国郑开国际马拉松赛, Zheng-Kai stands for
"Zhengzhou-Kaifeng", also abbreviated "ZK") is a sporting event hosted
jointly by the Chinese Athletic Association, the general sport
Zhengzhou municipal government, and
Kaifeng municipal government. It is the premier international
sports competition in
Henan province and one of the biggest sports
competitions in the Central-West of China. ZK International Marathon
is held at the end of March or beginning of April each year. The main
part of the event occurs along the famous Zhengkai Express Way
(郑开大道). At its launch in 2007, 5600 athletes competed. By
2012, almost 25000 athletes from 28 countries and regions have
participated in the ZK International Marathon.
Kaifeng is headquarters of the 20th Group Army of the People's
Liberation Army, one of the three group armies that comprise the Jinan
Military Region responsible for defence of the
Yellow River Plain.
Kaifeng Air Base
Kaifeng Air Base is a military airfield in the southern suburb of
Kaifeng City. It does not provide civilian aviation service.
The Iron Pagoda
Qingming Riverside Landscape Garden
Entrance to the Dragon Pavilion
Reconstructed city gate (inner) of Bianjing
Daxiangguo Temple's drum tower
Daliang City Gate
Imperial Street of the Song Dynasty
Imperial Street of the Song Dynasty
Imperial Street of the Song Dynasty
Main article: List of twin towns and sister cities in China
Twin towns—Sister cities
Kaifeng is twinned with:
Colleges and universities
Henan University (河南大学) (founded 1912)
Kaifeng University (开封大学) (founded 1980)
Kaifeng Institute of Education (开封教育学院)
Yellow River Conservancy Technical Institute
(黄河水利职业技术学院) (founded 1929)
Historical capitals of China
Yellow River flood
^ Zhongguo Gujin Diming Dacidian 中国古今地名大词典, 2005.
(Shanghai: Shanghai Cishu Chubanshe), 348. (in Chinese)
^ Jacques Gernet. Daily Life in
China on the Eve of the Mongol
Invasion, 1250-1276. (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1962).
Translated by H. M. Wright. ISBN 0804707200.
^ "Largest Cities Through History". Retrieved November 6, 2010.
^ Lorge, Peter (2005). War, Politics and Society in Early Modern
China, 900–1795. Routledge. pp. 52–54.
^ "The Eastern Manchurian Woodsmen Replacing the Western Manchurian
Nomads" (PDF). Retrieved November 6, 2010.
^ a b NPR
^ "豫菜成大器 任重而道远". Retrieved October 28, 2012.
Chrysanthemum Cultural Festival". Retrieved October
Cotterell, Arthur. (2007). The Imperial Capitals of China: An Inside
View of the Celestial Empire. London: Pimlico. pp. 304 pages.
The Origin of the
Kaifeng Jews, in S. Shaked, ed., Irano-Judaica,
Jerusalem, 1982, pp. 101–11
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Kaifeng.
Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Kaifeng.
Government website of
Kaifeng (in Simplified Chinese)
Portal (in Simplified Chinese)
Notes on the Jewish colony at
Kaifeng from the Papers of Charles
China (as Kaifeng)
Henan Normal University
Henan University of Technology
Henan Agricultural University
Xinyang brewed vegetables
Gaocheng Astronomical Observatory
White Horse Temple
County-level divisions of
Guancheng Hui District
Shunhe Hui District
Chanhe Hui District
Major cities along the Yellow River
Cities (from upper reaches to lower reaches)
Hohhot (boundaries of upper and middle reaches)
Zhengzhou(boundaries of middle and lower reaches)
Major cities along the Pearl River · Major cities along the Yangtze
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