Yan Huang Plaza – Zhengzhou, China - Atlas Obscura

Yan Huang Plaza

350-foot-high emperor faces in China's Yellow River valley. 


One of the most massive creations of the 21st century, the statues of the Yan Emperor and Yellow Emperor stand proudly above the Henan countryside in central China.

5000 years ago, the Yellow Emperor and the Yan Emperor helped to teach the Chinese the basics of living. According to legend, the Yellow Emperor taught the pre-dynastic Chinese how to tame animals and how to build shelters to protect themselves. The Yan Emperor, also known as Shennong, achieved equal acclaim and is considered the father of agriculture in China. Shennong taught the people how to plow the field, and helped illuminate the wonders of early modern agriculture.

Henan produces the majority of wheat, soy and rice in China, and fittingly, the patriarch emperors of Chinese society look proudly down on this breadbasket of China. As well as standing high on a sloping hill, the statues rise to 350 feet high, making them the 5th highest statue in the world. Although they were constructed in 2007, the relatively new monument took 20 years to finish. The final cost of the project was an amazing $22.5 million, paid by the government and other wealthy Chinese donors.

With its typical penchant for nationalist flair, the Chinese government inaugurated the statues with crowds of more than 20,000 people in the valley in front of the emperors. Sparing no expense, the government continues to light up the statues at night, illuminating them across Yellow River Scenic Area.

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