The carving work began in 492 AD and continued for 500 years. The Longmen Caves were made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000 for these spectacular works of Tang Dynasty art and later dynasties.
The earliest history of the Longmen Grottoes is traced to the reign of Emperor Xiaowen of Northern Wei dynasty when he shifted his capital to Luoyang. Luoyang was the capital for 13 dynasties. The grottoes were excavated and carved with Buddhist subjects over the period from 493 AD to 1127 AD.