Over a thousand years ago, the area of the present-day Long Ting ("Dragon Pavilion") Park in Kaifeng, Henan Province, was the Office of the Border General of the Xuanwu Army of the Tang (CE 618-907) Dynasty. During the Later Liang (CE 907-923) Dynasty of the Five Dynasties (CE 907-960) period, the site was reconstructed into the imperial palace and named Jiangchang Palace. During the Later Jin (CE 936-946), Later Han (CE 947-950) and Later Zhou (CE 951-960) Dynasties, the site was still the imperial palace, but under a different name: Daning Palace. During the Northern Song (CE 960-1127) Dynasty, a forbidden imperial palace was built here, and thus the area became inaccessible and declined in importance.
During the later years of the Jin (CE 1115-1234) Dynasty, the area became a regular, open-access imperial palace again. During the Ming (CE 1368-1644) Dynasty, Emperor Zhu Yuanzhang's fifth son, Zhu Di, constructed his own house, called Prince Zhou's Mansion, in the vicinity, increasing the area's prime importance. However, due to flooding caused by the nearby Yellow River, the imperial palace, which in the meantime had become a repository for memorial tablets dedicated to former emperors – to which government officials were required to make regular visits – was no longer suitable as a repository for the memorial tablets, due to its low-lying locality, and therefore a new repository, Wanshou ("Longevity") Palace, was constructed to house the memorial tablets. This explains the peculiar form of Longevity Palace, i.e., a pavilion atop a 13-meter high, flood-proof stone structure. It was at about this same time that Longevity Palace began to be called Dragon Pavilion.
Present-Day Dragon Pavilion Park
As the main scenic site of Kaifeng, Dragon Pavilion Park totals more than 80 hectares, half of which is water area. The park consists primarily of two lakes - Family Pan Lake and Family Yang Lake. For some strange reason, the Family Pan Lake is muddy while the latter is clear, which people have likened to the characters of two officials who served during the Northern Song (CE 960-1127) Dynasty: Pan Renmei, a treacherous official; and Yang Jiye, an honest one.
The architectural highlights of Long Ting Park include Wu ("Noon") Gate, Yudai ("Jade Belt") Bridge, the Chao ("Wise, Benevolent Spirit") Houses on either side of Imperial Road, Long ("Dragon") Pavilion, Chaomen Gate, the ruins of the Northern Song Dynasty Imperial Palace, Monument Pavilion, North Gate, and East Gate. Dragon Pavilion is an immense hall built atop an imposing, 13-meter high, flood-proof stone structure that has a moderately-sloped, 72-step stone staircase leading up to the entrance. In the center of the hall stands a large dragon carving. The hall's ceiling is decorated with yellow glazed tiles, reinforcing the link to China's imperial past, as yellow was the favorite color of emperors. On either side of Dragon Pavilion are placed eight Chao Rooms, which, together with the palatial courtyard, form an impressive whole. The pavilion also houses a Waxwork Hall that exhibits vivid waxwork likenesses of prominent personages.