Turpan, Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region

Turpan, Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, China

Turfan is located in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. The city was the first important point on the Central branch of the Silk Road. In ancient times, he was much more famous in the world than today. Among the numerous historical monuments of Turfan, the ancient settlement of Jiaohe (Mesopotamia) ranks first. It is located 10 km west of the modern city of Turfan.. Here the river, having met on its way a 30-meter table-like hill, is divided into two branches, which, flowing around it, merge again at the southern end. On the island hill in the Tang era, a city was built, which received the name Mezhdurechny. It served as the capital of the ancient state of Cheshi, and later of the kingdom of Gaochang, the Western Territories and the Uighur Khaganate. The city gradually expanded and improved. At the end of the XIII century. it was destroyed during the wars. Interestingly, the builders of Jiaohe literally dug out the city territory, so that the specially left untouched edge sides of the hill became the fortress walls. Check ehangzhou for Shilin stone forest in China.

The buildings of the city have preserved the architectural style characteristic of Dosun China.. The length of the island from north to south is 1650 m, in the transverse direction – 300 m. The urban area occupies about 1000 m in length. There are city gates on three sides: east, south and west. The southern gate is open for tourists. From south to north, the city is cut through by a central highway 10 m wide, numerous streets and alleys leave from it in both directions. Administrative institutions and residential areas were concentrated in the southern part of the city, monasteries and temples prevailed in the northern part, the most famous were the Buddhist monasteries of Daphos, the Small Northwest Monastery, the Small Northeast Monastery, as well as many Buddhist pagodas. Further north is the cemetery. In 1994, archaeologists unearthed a unique underground Buddhist temple here, a find that attracted close attention in academic circles.

From Jiaohe, tourists can go to the eastern suburbs of Turfan, where the ancient settlement of Gaochang, the Astana graves and Baizilik caves of the Thousand Buddhas are located. The site of Gaochang is located 50 km east of Turfan. The city was known as early as the 1st century. BC BC, it served as the political center of the eastern region of the Western Territories and an important point on the Silk Road. Administrative bodies were located here, and at one time Gaochang served as the capital. The city existed for about 1400 years, and at the end of the XIII century. was destroyed during the wars. Today you can see the foundation of the fortress wall and the remains of buildings.

The city is divided into three districts. The outer city has the shape of an unequal quadrangle with a circumference of 5 km, the height of the adobe fortress wall is 11 meters, and the thickness is 12 meters. The Inner City is located between the Outer City and the Palace District. Numerous foundations of buildings have been preserved here. According to historical records, the city of Gaochang had 12 iron gates, the remains of which can still be seen today. Special mention should be made of the grandiose Buddhist monastery in the southwestern part of the city. Judging by the preserved foundation, the monastery covered an area of 10,000 km2. In addition, a place has been preserved where the Tang monk Muanzang, who stopped in Gaochang on his way to India, read his sermon.

In 1961, the Chinese government declared the Gaochang site a protected historical monument of national importance. The graves of Astana and Kara-Khechzho are well known in the scientific world. They are located north of the Gaochang site and occupy an area of approximately 8 km2. The graves are dated to the period from the 3rd to the 8th centuries. There are burials of both nobles and commoners. As excavations have shown, each burial is a cave crypt, to which an inclined underground corridor leads from the surface. In many burials, the walls of the crypts are decorated with frescoes, the colors of which are well preserved. Today, several of the best-preserved grave crypts are open for viewing.

Around Turfan in the Muto Gorge there are the famous Baizilik cave temples of the Thousand Buddhas – one of the largest Buddhist monuments in China. The construction of Baizilik cave temples dates back to the 6th century, when the kingdom of Gaochang existed in this region. On the steep walls of the gorge, you can see rows of niches carved into the rocks, and in the niches there are figures of Buddhist saints. The cave-temple ensemble looks very impressive: 83 caves have survived to this day, 40 of them have preserved frescoes. The Baiziklik caves were at one time declared the Royal Temple. It is from this period that most of the frescoes covering the walls and ceiling of the caves belong.

Tourists coming to Turpan are definitely recommended to see the Imin Minaret, which is also called the Minaret of Prince Suleiman. The minaret is located within the city. This monument of Muslim architecture was conceived by the Turfan ruler Imin as a token of gratitude to the Chinese Emperor Qianlong for the favors shown to him. In our time, it has been declared a protected monument of national importance. The minaret reaches a height of 40 m and has a domed shape. Mosaic brickwork forms more than 10 different ornaments. In the center of the building there is a spiral staircase that can be used to climb to the very top of the building. The upper part of the minaret is a gazebo from where you can see the surroundings.

Turpan, Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region