As the carriers of potency and good fortune, dragons have been associated with the Chinese imperial class since antiquity. In ancient times, the Chinese believed emperors to be human incarnations of powerful dragons. It is from this belief that the Dragon Pavilion earned its name. Formerly utilized as a great hall in the Northern Song Dynasty imperial palace, the Dragon Pavilion stood as home to several ancient Chinese emperors, most prominently Qing Dynasty rulers Shunzhi and Kangxi. The latter ruled during the construction of the Pavilion's current iteration.
Commonly found on nearly every Kaifeng tourist's itinerary, the Dragon Pavilion's popularity stems from its abundant history and remarkable beauty. Ironically not a "pavilion" at all, this great hall is built upon a 13-meter thick brick base and features the Dragon Pavilion Park, Kaifeng's largest sightseeing area. The Park itself covers over 80 hectares and provides picturesque vantage points to the region's lakes, rivers and other scenic features. The Imperial Road to the Park is flanked by two prominent lakes, Yang Lake to the west and Pen Lake to the east. These two contrasting bodies of water reflect the natures of their Song Dynasty namesakes: Yang Jiye the honor bound general and Pen Renmei the notoriously conniving minister. Their lakes are appropriately clear and murky, as per the characters of their eponyms.
Recent beautification efforts have further enhanced the Park's splendor. Several new gardens and pavilions have been built, including the delightful Fangsen Miniature Garden, the Plum Garden and the Tongchun Orchard. These wonderful botanical areas accommodate many blooming trees including peach, cherry, Chinese redbud, pomegranate, cinnamon, and winter sweet blossom trees.
The layout of the Dragon Pavilion consists of the Great Hall flanked by eight "wing" rooms to each side. Finely carved fences and dragon patterns populate the Great Hall, which visitors enter via 50 steps that lead to the imperial walkway. A majestic carved dragon stands proudly at the center of this walkway, which also features the imperial chair of the founder of the Song Dynasty, Zhao Kuangyin.
China's first waxwork museum in China features 63 vividly sculpted figures. Located in the west wing of the Dragon Pavilion, its exhibition area covers 410 square meters. Nine groups of waxworks represent the great events of the Song Dynasty. These lifelike figures feature exquisite attention to detail Visitors relax by immersing in the area's hot springs. Along the Sand River Valley, at the foot of Shirenshan, five groups of hot springs soothe and replenish their visitors. What's more, the scenic area of Shirenshan is dotted with other points of interest, including the Folk Custom Valley, the Temple of Confucius and Asia's largest aeronautic exhibition center.