Luoyang is situated to the southeast of Beijing. The town, chosen as capital by some ten dynasties, does not have a great deal of architectural interest, but is the departure point for at least two interesting visits. The first is the White Horse Temple (8 miles to the east), the first Buddhist temple founded in China in the 1st century; the monastery is still active and the place exudes tranquility. Second is the Longmen Buddhist grottoes, the ?Gate of the Dragon' (10 miles to the south). More than 100,000 images of Buddha, some monumental, were carved into the cliffs dominating the Yi River between the 5th and 7th centuries. Degradation by the weather, looters, and vandalism by the Red Guards have made the site deteriorate considerably, however, it retains a magical aspect. In this region, numerous homes have been directly carved into the loess. You can also plan to visit the Shaolin monastery (50 miles to the southeast), the birthplace of Chinese martial arts known worldwide. However, some people consider it as a tourist trap that is overrun in summer.