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Sanmenxia (Three Gate Gorges)

Sanmenxia Dam

Located in the west of Henan Province (hé nán shěng 河南省), Sanmenxia City (sān mén xiá shì 三门峡市) is seated at the convergence of the Henan, Shanxi (shān xī 山西) and Shaanxi (shǎn xī 陕西) provinces. Within the province, it neighbors Luoyang (luò yáng 洛阳) in the east and Nanyang (nán yáng 南阳) in the south. The city is also bounded on the west by Shangluo (shāng luò 商洛) and Weinan (wèi nán 渭南) of Shaanxi Province. In the north, it is separated from Shanxi Province by the Yellow River.


Sanmenxia City is an emerging industrial city which was built with the construction of the first dam on Yellow River in the 1950s. However, the city has a much longer history. It is one of the birthplaces of ancient Chinese culture. Human beings began to live in the area as early as 500,000 to 600,000 years ago. Some major clans appeared in the region 5 to 6 thousand years ago. In Xia (2100-1600 BC) and Shang (1600-1100 BC) dynasties, Sanmenxia was the center of the region.

Beautiful view of Sanmenxia CityThere are many places of interest in Sanmenxia City. The site of Yangshao Culture (yǎng sháo wén huà 仰韶文化) is a proof that there was New Stone Age Culture in China (people used to think that there was no New Stone Age culture in China). The chariots and horses made of smelted metal have been found in the cemetery of Guo State, an enfeoffment of initial stage of the Western Zhou Dynasty (1100-771 BC). Hangu Pass (hán gǔ guān 函谷关) , an ancient natural barrier, was first built during the Spring and Autumn Period (770-476 BC). The pass was a strategic point on the way leading to the ancient capitals of Chang'an (the present Xi'an, capital of Shaanxi Province) in the west and Luoyang in the east. It was here that Laozi, the founder of Taoism wrote the immortal "the Classic of the Virtue of the Tao" over 2,000 years ago. The Baolun Temple Pagoda (bǎo lún sì tǎ 宝轮寺塔) is one of the four echo buildings in ancient China (the other three are the echo wall in the Temple of Heaven in Beijing, the Yingying Pagoda in Pujiu Temple in Shanxi Province and the stone musical instrument in the Grand Buddha Temple in Sichuan Province). Sanmenxia City also boasts a beautiful environment. Located south of Yellow River, the city looks like a peninsula, with three sides surrounded by water. The forest parks and nature reserves total more than 300 sq. km. Every year, hundreds of white swans fly from the distant Siberia to the swamp of Sanmenxia Reservoir for the winter.


According to the legend, Yu the Great (dà yǔ 大禹), the ancient hero of controlling torrential flood in prehistoric time, slipped up the high mountain into three gorges. Hence the city gained its name of Sanmenxia (three gate gorges). As an important headstream ofSanmenxia Reservoir Chinese civilization, it was the central region of the Xia (21st-16th century BC) and Shang (16th-11th century BC) dynasties. Shanxian (shǎn xiàn 陕县) was established in the northern Wei Dynasty (AD 386-534), part of the northern Dynasty (AD 186-581), and continued into the Qing Dynasty (AD 1644-1911).

Geographic and climatic features

The city is situated in the hilly area of western Henan Province with mountains and hills making up over ninety percent of the city's total territory. Mountain ranges fall and rise, forming gullies all over the city.

Located in the warm temperate zone, the city has semi-dry continental climate with four distinct seasons. The average temperature of the coldest January and the hottest July are respectively -0.7℃ and 27℃ (30.7℉ and 80.6℉).


Sanmenxia Dam

Sanmenxia Dam OverviewBuilt in 1957, Sanmenxia Dam (sān mén xiá dà bà 三门峡大坝) is the first large water-control project situated on the main stream of Yellow River. The principal structure of Sanmenxia Dam is concrete gravitation dam, with an installed capacity of 400,000 kw. The dam is 875.2 meters long, and the highest point is 106 meters. Sanmenxia Dam stands towering among the steep gorges, making a splendid scene on Yellow River.

There are many other tourist attractions at Sanmenxia Dam Scenic Spot. The islands of the "Three Gates", namely the "People's Gate", "Ghost Gate" and the "God's Gate", tell the story of how Dayu, the ancient emperor, split the mountain into three gorges. Tourists can also study the ancient Yellow River plank road built along the cliffs and the ancient water transport on Yellow River. There are some historic sites, such as Zhang Gong Island (zhāng gōng dǎo 张公岛; the island was named after a boatman whose surname was Zhang. Gong is a term of address for an elderly man). As the legend goes, there The pillar rock in midstreamwere a lot of accidents on the Sanmenxia part of Yellow River because of the surging waves. Zhang built a house on the island and navigated the passing boats). What's more, there are Dayu Park with magnificent natural scenery, the Greeting Guests Pavilion and Yellow River Exhibition Hall, which combines both arts of the east and west, and the Sino-Japanese Friendship Orchard (sān mén xiá zhōng rì yǒu hǎo yuàn 三门峡中日友好苑).

Sanmenxia Dam, together with the surrounding scenery, takes on different scenes all year. In winter and spring when the water level is high, you can enjoy the scene of a grand lake rippling with green wavelets. In summer when the flood is released, you can see a huge waves flowing down vigorously.

Location: Yanhe Road, 14 kilometres northeast of Sanmenxia City
Tel: 0398-2992070
Transportation: Take a shuttle bus at city bus station.
Opening Hours: 8:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.
Admission Fee: CNY30

Hangu Pass

Hangu PassFirst established during the Spring and Autumn Period (770-476 BC), Hangu Pass (hán gǔ guān 函谷关) once played an great role in history as a pass of vital importance between ancient Luoyang and Chang'an (Xi'an). This grand building complex is 15 kilometers (9 miles) north of Lingbao City (líng bǎo shì 灵宝市). If one man guards the pass, ten thousand are unable to pass through. Additionally, Taichu Palace in the building complex is said to be the place where Lao Zi, the founder of Taoism, created his greatest masterpiece Daodejing (dào dé jīng 道德经; Tao Te Ching), commonly translated as the 'Classic of the Virtue'. So, Hangu Pass is also an important site for Lao Zi's believers to commemorate him.

Location: Wangduo Village, Hanguguan Town, Lingbao City, Pingdingshan City
Tel: 0398-6922882
Transportation: Take Bus No.1 at Lingbao bus or train station, and then transfer to Bus No. 8 to get to the destination. 
Opening Hours: 7:30 a.m. - 6:30 p.m. in summer; 8:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m. in winter
Admission Fee: CNY40

Baolun Temple Pagoda

Baolun Temple PagodaBaolun Temple Pagoda (bǎo lún sì tǎ 宝轮寺塔) was first built in 1177. The pagoda is 26.5 meters high and has a girth of 21.6 meters. There are altogether 13 stories in the pagoda. An inscription of six Chinese Characters (showing that this is the place where the Buddhist relics of Buddha Sakyamuni were preserved here) was sculpted in the façade of the pagoda. Tourists can go up along the brick stairs in the pagoda to the top and enjoy the scene of the Yellow River.

A 13-storey brick pagoda, it stands 25.5m long and has a perimeter of 21.6m. The bottom part consists of a base and a pedestal. In the front, there is an inscription meaning a pagoda where Buddha's remains are kept. An inverted taper tower, the height o­n each storey descends evenly. The outline of the pagoda takes o­n the shape of a parabola. o­n each storey, there are semi-annular doors, recesses, and wickets built into the walls, and the corners are decorated with wind chimes. Inside the pagoda are the stairway and rooms where o­ne can look far into distance and enjoy the views.

While having a look of a Tang-styled architecture, the inside structure was built with the methods of the Song Dynasty. The pagoda blends the artistic features and construction of the two periods and has a unique shape. Owing to this special structure, the pagoda has survived 16 earthquakes, four of which were destructive to the surrounding areas. Standing several meters away from the pagoda, o­ne can hear the toads croaking o­n the rocks and therefore, it is nicknamed the Toad Tower (há má tǎ 蛤蟆塔).

Location: Shanzhou tourist site, west of Sanmenxia City
Tel: 0398-2833181
Transportation: Take a shuttle bus from Sanmenxia city centre to Shanzhou tourist site, and then walk to the destination.
Opening Hours: 7:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Admission Fee: Free

Yangshao Culture Site

Yangshao Culture SiteWith an area of 300,000 sq. meters, Yangshao Village (yǎng sháo cūn 仰韶村) is a famous site of the New Stone Age culture in China. The cultural site is 2 meters deep, and the deepest point is 4 meters deep. From the lowest point to the earth surface the site is divided into the middle stage of Yangshao Culture, the late stage of Yangshao Culture, early stage of Longshan Culture (lóng shān wén huà 龙山文化; successor of Yangshao Culture) and the middle stage of Longshan Culture.

Yangshao Culture Site was first discovered by Anderson, a Swedish, in 1921. Large amounts of stone tools of axe, shovel, hoe, knife, and bone pricks and bone needles have been found here. The most spectacular part in Yangshao culture is the exquisite ancient painted pottery, such as the potteries of cooking vessels, pots, bowls, basins, earthen bowls, cups, urns and jars. The delicate decorative patterns on the pottery include those of broad bands, nets, flower leaves, fish, string and geometric patterns.

In March, 1961, Yangshao Culture Site was ratified by the Chinese State Department as a major historic and cultural site under state protection.

Location: Yangshao Village, 9 kilometres north of Mianchi County (miǎn chí xiàn 渑池县), Pingdingshan City
Admission Fee: CNY10

Yawu Mountain

Yawu MountainYawu Mountain (yà wǔ shān 亚武山) is a famous Taoist site located in Yuling Town (yù líng zhèn 豫灵镇) of Lingbao City. The Yawu Mountain scenic area is the largest natural reserve of Henan, and its main peak is the highest point in the province. Large temple fair will be held every June. Main sights include precipitous peaks and mountain pass, as well as some grand Taoist buildings, like Nantian Gate, Yuhuang Hall, Tianyi Palace and so on.

Location: 25 kilometres south of Yuling Town, Lingbao City, Pingdingshan City
Admission Fee: CNY10


Hedgehog fungus

Hedgehog fungusHedgehog fungus
(hóu tóu jūn 猴头菌) is a precious edible fungus which lives on the dried-up tree stumps of oak trees. Lushi County is abundant with oak trees, so there are many kinds of hedgehog fungus growing there.

Lushi (lú shì 卢氏) Hedgehog Fungus is fresh, delicious and nutritious. Every 100 grams of hedgehog fungus contains 26.3 grams of protein, 4.2 grams of fat, and polysaccharide. The protein hydrolysate in the hedgehog fungus includes 16 kinds of amino acid, of which 7 out of 8 kinds necessary to human bodies are contained, and other elements of calcium, phosphor, ferrum and carotene which are nutritious to people.

Lushi Hedgehog Fungus mainly grows in the southwestern part of the county, such as the townships of Shiziping, Guanpo, Wayaogou, Tanghe, and Xujiawan.



Sanmenxia City enjoys a convenient railway transport, with Longhai (Lanzhou in Gansu Province — Lianyungang in Jiangsu Province) Railroad running from west to east. Trains from Zhengzhou, Luoyang to Xi'an pass Sanmenxia. Train K761 from Zhengzhou to Xi'an passes Sanmenxi at 2:42 p.m. and gets at Xi'an at 6:26 p.m.. And Train K762 from Xi'an to Zhengzhou passes Sanmenxia at 3:28 p.m. and gets at Zhengzhou at 7 p.m.. K118 from Panzhihua (in southwestern Sichuan) passes Sanmenxia at 5:24 p.m. and gets at Beijing at 5:50 a.m..

There are two railway stations in Sanmenxia City: Sanmenxia Railway Station and Western Sanmenxia Railway Station. Buses No. 1 and No. 2 run to Sanmenxia Railway Station and No.5 runs to the Western Railway Station.

Sanmenxia Railway Station Ticket Office: 0398-2821169-2020 (extension number)

Sanmenxia Western Railway Station Ticket Office: 0398-3841432/3803035,


The Sanmenxia Long-Distance Bus Station is located in the east section of Xiaoshan Lu. The city is a little over an hour's drive from Luoyang.

Sanmenxia Long Distance Bus Terminal: 0398-2886061

Last Updated on Wednesday, 15 December 2010 08:46

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