The earliest existing sea-crossing beam stone bridge
Located across the Luoyang River in the northeast of downtown Quanzhou, Luoyang Bridge is an outstanding work of ancient bridge construction, which was a vital communication line connecting Quanzhou and the backlands of Jiangxi and Zhejiang Provinces. Its construction started off the bridge-building movement that lasted for three centuries in the Song and Yuan Dynasties, promoting the establishment and improvement of national land-and-water coordinated transport system. Luoyang Bridge, Anping Bridge and Shunji Bridge etc, jointly connect the coastal arterials, which is a milestone of the development of Quanzhou’s land-and-water coordinated transport system. It is an example of the grand transportation construction with the authority’s leading and masses’ participation, showing the contribution and promotion for commercial activities from all walks of life including the authority and the monks.
Luoyang bridge was built between 1053 (the 5th year of the Huangyou reign of the Northern Song Dynasty) and 1059 (the 4th year of the Jiayou reign of the Northern Song Dynasty), costing 14 million liang (equals to 70 thousand kilograms of silver). Cai Xiang, who had been the magistrate of Quanzhou twice, contributed a lot to the bridge building. To commemorate his contributions, people donated and built a memorial temple. Now Cai Xiang Temple is an attached cultural relic of Luoyang Bridge, one of the Major Historical and Cultural Site Protected at the National Level.
According to Luoyang Bridge’s construction history records, Li Chongzhou once sank stones to build bridge. Though he failed, he was the first to attempt to build a bridge across the Luoyang River, who started the era of turning a ferry terminal into a bridge and going by land instead of waterway. About ten years after Li’s attempt, in the April of the 5th year of Huangyou reign in the Northern Song Dynasty (the year 1053), Wang Shi built a bridge by laying stones on the Wan’an Dock for the first time; so Wang was considered the first person who constructed the present Luoyang Bridge initially. Later, Cai Xiang, who had been the magistrate of Quanzhou twice, resolved difficulties and supervised the project in person. His contribution to the successful construction cannot go unnoticed. But compared with the total duration of the project, which was six years and eight months, his 23-month-supervision took up only one-fourth. Therefore, in the “Notes on Wan’an Bridge” written by Cai, he didn’t boast his contribution; instead, he recorded another 15 officials in charge, and highly affirmed the power and wisdom of local people.
Built with granite, the bridge is about 731 meters long, 4.5 meters wide with 45 piers and 500 stone rails, among which there are 28 rails carved into a lion body shape. The largest stone slabs used to pave the bridge road are 11 meters long, 0.98 meters wide and 0.8 meters thick. The average weight of the slabs is over 10 tons.
Due to the magnificent, skillful and unique construction of the flat-beam stone bridge, as well as the “raft-shaped foundation” building technique, Luoyang Bridge enjoys the reputation as the “No.1 bridge in the world”. And together with Lugou Bridge, Zhaozhou Bridge and Guangji Bridge, Luoyang Bridge is renowned as one of the four famous ancient Chinese bridges. As China’s first important cross-channel stone bridge, it can be traced to the same origin as the prosperity of Zayton City and has a significant impact on Quanzhou’s flourishing in the Song and Yuan Dynasties. The construction of Luoyang Bridge makes the joint rail and water transportation that benefits the marine trade come true. Meanwhile, it reflects ancient Quanzhou’s prosperous maritime commerce and advanced transportation building technology.