Longyou Grottoes in Quzhou, Zhejiang

Longyou Grottoes

The Longyou Grottoes (Chinese: 龙游石窟), also called the Xiaonanhai Stone Chambers (Chinese: 小南海石室), are a group of 24 artificial sandstone caverns located at Fenghuang Hill, near the village of Shiyan Beicun on the Qu River in Longyou County, Quzhou prefecture, Zhejiang province, China. Created more than 2,000 years ago, they were not recorded in any historical documents and were rediscovered by farmers in 1992.

Where is Longyou Grottoes Location

Longyou Grottoes located in Longyou County, Quzhou prefecture, Zhejiang area, China.

  • 180 kilometers away from Hangzhou
  • 60 kilometers away from Jinhua,
  • 30 kilometers away from Quzhou,

Introduction of Longyou Grottoes

The Longyou Caves are a progression of expansive counterfeit sandstone sinkholes situated at Phoenix Hill, close to the town of Shiyan Beicun on the Qu River in Longyou County, Quzhou prefecture, Zhejiang area, China. They are thought to date to a period before the making of the Qin Dynasty in 212 BCE, albeit no hint of their development or even their reality has been situated in the noteworthy record.


In June 1992, four farmers in Longyou discovered the caves by accident when they drained the water of five small ponds in their village. The ponds turned out to be five large manmade caverns. Further investigation revealed 19 more caverns nearby. They have been determined to be more than 2000 years old, and their construction is not recorded in any historical documents.


The caves are notable in several respects:

  • The caves are very large considering their man-made origin: the average floor area of each cave is over a 1,000 square metres (11,000 sq ft), with heights of up to 30 metres (98 ft), and the total area covered is in excess of 30,000 square metres (320,000 sq ft).
  • The ceiling, wall and pillar surfaces are all finished in the same manner, as a series of parallel bands or courses about 60 cm wide containing parallel chiselling marks set at an angle of about 60° to the axis of the course.
  • They have maintained their structural integrity and appear not to interconnect with each other.

Decorated With Lines And Symbols

The walls, roof, and stone columns of each of the grottoes are decorated with chisel marks – lines and symbols – probably deliberately left by the ancients. Do these symbols have only ornamental purpose, or are there a hidden message within the walls that has yet to be deciphered. Among twenty four discovered grottoes – all of which were carved by hand – there are seven that are decorated with patterns clearly resembling the seven stars of the Big Dipper.

Who built them

Nobody has any idea who built the caves. Some scientists have claimed that it was not possible or logical for such as mammoth job to have been undertaken by regular village people. Only the emperor and the leaders could have organised such a huge project, like the construction of the Great Wall, which was built to defend against invasion from the outside. But if it was commissioned by an Emperor, why are there no historical records of its construction?

How to Get There from Hangzhou

  • Longyou Grottoes are 180 km from Hangzhou. Visitors can take high-speed train from Hangzhou East Railway Station to Longyou Station first (about 1 hour), then take a taxi or public bus to reach Longyou Grottoes.
  • Tourists can also take bus No. 1 or No. 9 to the Longyou Grottoes from Longyou Railway Station from 7:00 am to 4:00 pm. It runs every 20 minutes and takes 30 minutes. The fare is 1 or 2 yuan.
  • Tourists can take express to Longyou bus station, then transfer to Zhongba bus to Longyou grottoes and Zhongba every 10 minutes. The fare is 2 yuan.

Recommended Tour Packages

Main Attractions in Zhejiang province

Edited by  Lynette Fu/付云锐