Birthplace of the Qin Dynasty and economic hub of Imperial China, the Gansu Province is a charming region in China relatively untouched by commercial tourism.The ancient Silk Road cuts across Gansu Province, bringing life and prosperity to cities along its path. While no longer the bustling economic powerhouses that used to be, the Silk Road cities of China still retain immense cultural, architectural and natural beauty. Join us as we explore some of the key cities of Gansu Province along the Silk Road!
Dun Huang literally means to ‘flourish and prosper’. As the gateway to far Western China, Xinjiang, which is predominantly Muslim, Dun Huang is one of the most culturally and religiously diverse cities of China.
A short ride from Dun Huang City lies The Magao Caves. The Magao Caves are also known as ‘Caves of the Thousand Buddhas’. A visit to this UNESC World Heritage Site and you’ll immediately understand why! Some of the finest specimens of Buddhist art, spanning a period of 1,000 years, are kept here. Intricately rock-cut sculptures and temples adorn the caves, along with colourful murals that decorate its walls.
When at Dun Huang, the sand dunes at Ming Sha Shan are a must-see too! Ming Sha Shan translates to ‘singing send dunes’, a name given due to sounds formed by strong winds blowing on the sands.
At the west of Dun Huang stoically stands the Yumen Pass, a strategic point where the Silk Road passes through. The gates of Yumen Pass were the final outposts in Chinese territory in which merchant caravans had to pass through, before heading westwards.
Situated at the border of Gansu Province and with the important Silk Road passing through, defense against potential invaders was vital. A 2,000 year old Great Wall built by the Han Dynasty stands guard vigilantly, erected 1,300 years before their more famous Ming Dynasty cousins. These ancient walls have seen constant warfare, and bravely withstood the test of time and harsh environments.
The Yadan Landforms look like they’ve come straight out of a story book, especially when lit by the twilight sun rays. These unique rock formations have been formed though years of weathering, forming unique and mystifying shapes that will hold you in awe. The harsh weather conditions and numerous closely-packed rock formations have earned it a notorious nickname – ‘Devil City’.
Jia Yu Guan
About 4 hours away from Dun Huang is Jia Yu Guan, an important military city of ancient times. The Great Wall of China begins at Jia Yu Guan, guarding China’s Western territory. As such, Jia Yu Guan is also known as the ‘Mouth of China’.
Numerous prominent military installations may be found in the ‘Mouth of China’. The first fire tower of the Great Wall is one such place.
For those who love to climb and experience a little history at the same time, The Overhanging Walls of Jia Yu Guan would satisfy your craving. Reward yourself with a spectacular view of the city at the top!
If you’re feeling adventurous, you can try taking a stroll across the Gobi suspension bridge. Not for the faint-hearted!
A short 2.5hrs drive from Jia Yu Guan brings you to Zhang Ye, where you’ll get to witness one of the most beautiful landforms in the world.
The Danxia Landform of Zhang Ye is known for its colourful rock formations. Plate tectonics, natural mineral deposits and weathering has given the landform its colourful layered appearance and smooth unique shapes. A definite must-see!
Above 500km eastwards of Zhang Ye is the city of Lan Zhou. Located along the Yellow River, it is the capital and largest city of the Gansu Province.
From here, you can visit famous destinations such as the Zhongshan Bridge, the first permanent bridge over the Yellow River.
Love history and culture? Then visit the Wu Quan Mountains nearby, where many ancient architectural and cultural sites have been built.
The Silk Road cities of Gansu Province are a melting pot of cultures and people. If you love being inspired by the natural beauty of nature and man-made wonders, these 4 cities will let you immerse in the allure of Gansu Province.
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