The Iron Pagoda Park (Tieta gongyuan) is situated within the northeastern corner of the old city walls, beside the Henan University. The park is dominated by the pagoda that sits in its center, overlooking the Iron Pagoda Lake and the city walls.
Erected strikingly in the Iron Pagoda Park, the Iron Pagoda in northeast of Kaifeng in Henan Province has attracted renown as the best pagoda in China for its superb construction and elegance. Built in 1094 in the Song Dynasty (960-1279) at a time, when Kaifeng was crowned as the capital of the country, the pagoda is the most eye-catching element of the park. Historically, the pagoda has suffered many traumas over the years, though, from flooding that buried the base in silt, to earthquakes and Cultural Revolution antics that tested the building's strength.
This octagonal shaped pagoda presently has 13 floors and rises to a total height of 56 meters. The tiles that line the outside of the building are, despite the name, clay, but coloured and glazed to represent the colour of rusty iron. Many of the tiles also have images carved into them, mainly in the usual Buddhist style. Those who ascend via the spiral staircase to the summit of the pagoda will be rewarded with views of the lake, the ancient walls, and the distant Yellow River that flows, siltily through to the north.
The thirteen-layered, octagonal pagoda is over 55 meters (180.4 feet) high. The unique construction uses bricks but follows a design of wooden pagodas. Apertures, tenons, gouges and slots on the bricks are assured different parts to be joined securely. These firm joints have enabled the pagoda to survive earthquakes, flood and destructive human efforts for over 900 years.
The glazed-bricks on the surface layer are exquisitely engraved. More than 50 distinct patterns are used, such as figures of Buddha and Bodhisattva, different flowers, and lions and kylins, to name just a few. Each pattern is of a high artistic standard show excellent craftsmanship. The steps of the brick stair spiral to the top from where you can enjoy a view of the whole city.
The Iron Pagoda has intrigued visitors from home and overseas for a long time. It was placed on the list of major historic and cultural sites under state protection in 1961.