Kaifeng Iron Pagoda – First Pagoda in the World

iron pagoda in kaifeng

The Iron Pagoda in Kaifeng (开封铁塔) is located in the eastern part of the Iron Pagoda Park on Beimen Street in Kaifeng City, Henan Province. It stands as a significant cultural relic and a major attraction within the park. Constructed in the first year of the Huangyou reign (1049 AD) of the Northern Song Dynasty, the Iron Pagoda is the oldest extant iron pagoda in China and was designated as one of China’s first batch of nationally protected cultural relics in 1961. Often referred to as the “First Pagoda in the World,” it is one of the most representative cultural treasures of the Song Dynasty’s capital, Kaifeng, boasting immense historical and cultural significance.

Standing at a height of 55.88 meters with eight sides and thirteen stories, the Iron Pagoda exhibits a majestic and elegant appearance. Its body is adorned with brown glazed bricks resembling iron, hence earning the name “Iron Pagoda” among the locals since the Yuan Dynasty. From afar, the entire pagoda is decorated with iron-colored glazed tiles, exuding a profound and dignified aura, while its proportionate and visually balanced structure adds to its awe-inspiring presence. Upon closer inspection, the intricate decorations adorning the pagoda are exquisite examples of glazed relief art, with each brick meticulously crafted to perfection, displaying vibrant and lifelike imagery.

The design of the Iron Pagoda exemplifies a perfect fusion of craftsmanship and aesthetics. Features such as the glazed tiles on the eaves, lotus motifs, and animal-shaped ridges showcase the superb architectural skills and unique artistic style of the time. Inside the pagoda, each floor houses Buddhist statues, reflecting the profound Buddhist culture. The varied expressions of the Buddha statues convey compassion and wisdom, making it not only a place of worship for believers but also a sanctuary for inner peace seekers.

Remarkably, despite enduring nearly a millennium of natural disasters such as wars, floods, and earthquakes, the Iron Pagoda remains steadfast, symbolizing resilience and fortitude. At sunset, the pagoda, along with the Iron Pagoda Lake, Buddhist halls, and ancient city walls, creates picturesque scenery, adding a unique historical charm to the city of Kaifeng.


Attractions near Iron Pagoda

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