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An urban oasis shrouded by vast stretches of desert, Dunhuang sits in the northwestern edge of Gansu, nestled behind a sandy veil. In ancient times, Dunhuang served as the connective hub between China and its westward neighbors and served as the nation’s westernmost military stronghold. The city linked the middle and eastern Silk Road routes, and most Buddhist monks entering China from India and Central Asia traveled along the Silk Road, resulting in the establishment of one of China’s earliest Buddhist centers, as traveling monks remained within the city to rest and learn about Chinese culture and language. While the city’s zenith has long since passed, Dunhuang continues to be an important urban anchor in China’s western frontier, and the city is the perfect springboard into Gansu’s even more far-flung destinations.

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