Fodor's Expert Review The Ruins of Gaochang

Turpan Ruins Fodor's Choice

These fascinating city ruins lie in a valley south of the Flaming Mountains. Legend has it that a group of soldiers stopped here in the 1st century BC on their way to Afghanistan, found that water was plentiful, and decided to stay. By the 7th century the city was the capital of the kingdom of Gaochang, which ruled more than 21 other towns, and by the 9th century the Uyghurs had moved into the area from Mongolia, establishing the kingdom of Kharakhoja. In the 14th century Mongols destroyed the kingdom, leaving only the ruins seen today. Only the city walls and a partially preserved monastery surrounded by muted, almost unrecognizable crumbling buildings remain, an eerie and haunting excursion into the pages of history. Over the years, archaeologists have uncovered buried ancient texts written in Uyghur, Sanskrit, Chinese, and Tibetan, a testament to the changing demographic of the city throughout its history. Entering the city from the south, you'll want to visit the temple complex in... READ MORE

These fascinating city ruins lie in a valley south of the Flaming Mountains. Legend has it that a group of soldiers stopped here in the 1st century BC on their way to Afghanistan, found that water was plentiful, and decided to stay. By the 7th century the city was the capital of the kingdom of Gaochang, which ruled more than 21 other towns, and by the 9th century the Uyghurs had moved into the area from Mongolia, establishing the kingdom of Kharakhoja. In the 14th century Mongols destroyed the kingdom, leaving only the ruins seen today. Only the city walls and a partially preserved monastery surrounded by muted, almost unrecognizable crumbling buildings remain, an eerie and haunting excursion into the pages of history. Over the years, archaeologists have uncovered buried ancient texts written in Uyghur, Sanskrit, Chinese, and Tibetan, a testament to the changing demographic of the city throughout its history. Entering the city from the south, you'll want to visit the temple complex in the southwest corner of the city. Because of the sheer size of the ruins, any further exploration requires renting an electric cart or bicycle. There is little shade, so go early and bring an umbrella.

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Ruins Fodor's Choice

Quick Facts

30 km (19 miles) east of Turpan
Turpan, Xinjiang Uygur Zizhiqu  838000, China

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Rate Includes: Y60, Y70

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