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Home Travel in Xinjiang The Ancient City of Gaochang
The Ancient City of Gaochang
Travel in Xinjiang

The Ancient City of Gaochang
The ruins of the ancient city of Gaochang (gāo chāng gǔ chéng 高昌古城) lies in the boundless desolate Gobi desert, shining like a resplendent precious stone inlaid in the barren desert and shining on the Silk Road. Withstanding the test of time and weather, the ancient city of Gaochang is one of the best-preserved ruins of the ancient cities in China. 45 kilometers to  the east of Turpan (tǔ lǔ fān 吐鲁番), Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (xīn jiāng wū lǔ mù qí zì zhì qū 新疆乌鲁木齐自治区), the ancient city of Gaochang is located at the Mutougouhe River (mù tóu gōu hé 木头沟河) Delta, at the southeastern foot of the Flaming Hill (huǒ yàn shān 火焰山), the hottest place in China. Gaochang, which means the king city in Uyghur language, was the capital of the old Yugor (yì dōu 亦都) people's empire. It was also an important section of the Silk Road, a great trade route of the past. It was publicized as one of the key national cultural relic’s protection unit by the State Council in 1961.

The Ancient City of GaochangThe ancient city of Gaochang was built as a garrison town in the first century B.C., initially called Gaochang Wall, and later renamed Kharakhoja, Kocho or King City. During the successive dynasties, it was ruled as Gaochang Prefecture, Gaochang Kingdom and West Prefecture. By the 14th century, the city was damaged and abandoned as a result of warfare between Mongolian aristocrats and Uigurs. After 2,000 years, the weather-beaten ancient city still shows its past greatness and glory even though the walls are incomplete the magnificent outline remains.

Religious Culture
The ancient city of Gaochang was also a sanctuary of world religious culture. It has left many invaluable treasures to us. In 629 AD, Xuanzang (xuán zàng 玄奘), a famous Buddhist monk from the Tang Dynasty (táng cháo 唐朝), wanted to improve his spiritual quality. Regardless of danger of being killed because of the going out ban imposed by the imperial authority, he managed to go west via Gaochang and reached India, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Xuanzhuang stopped in Gaochang for some time and delivered lectures. Xuanzang had left a great Buddhist legacy in old Gaochang City.

The Ancient City of GaochangThe Ancient City of Gaochang comprises the outer city, the inner city and the palace city. The walls of city are well preserved. The outer city is in a shape of rectangle with perimeter of about 5 kilometers, covering an area of 2 million square meters. The walls were built by ramming and the foundation is 11.5 meters high and 12 meters wide. There are outstanding battlements on the outside of the city walls---“Mamian” (mǎ miàn 马面) structure. The west city has two gates, from one of which, the small town outside the city gate can still be seen. The southeast and southern part of the outer city is the temple area. The bigger temple area lies on the southwest part of the city. The original of the ruins are the gate of temple, yard, main hall, pagoda basement of storied niche, and some remaining mural and figures of Buddha can still be vaguely seen in the niches. Some ruins of “workshop” and “fair” still exist in the southeast and northeast outsider the ancient city, perhaps the workshops ruin of small handcraft industry.

Take the tourist bus from Turpan to Doushan, it stops at Shengjinkou, then transfer to motorcycles from Shengjinkou to Gaochang.
Take a bus from Turpan to Sanbao Township Government, and then transfer to motorcycles to Gaochang.
Take a taxi.

Admission Fee: CNY 40
Opening Hours: 8:00 - 17:00
Location: 45 km to the east of the city of Turpan