The Silk Road

The Silk Road has more than 2,000 years of history. It began in Chang’an (present Xi’an, Shaanxi Province) in the east and stretched to Rome, Italy in the west. The route crosses Shaanxi, Gansu, Qinghai provinces, Ningxia Hui and Xinjiang Uygur autonomous regions and then passes over the Pamirs, to extend to Central and West Asia and finally reaches the east bank of the Mediterranean Sea and Eastern Europe. The total length of the Silk Road is more than 2,485 miles, over half of the width of China.

The Silk Road was the main artery for business and trade between China and the West. It has played an important role in the exchanges of cultural and trade-goods. As many people already know, China’s four major contributions to civilization are papermaking, printing, compass and gunpowder. They were introduced to Western countries via the Silk Road. In return, many aspects of Western civilization that influenced Chinese society made their way back along this road. The Silk Road has been an indispensable instrument in the opening up and developing of cross-cultural friendship. Although modern society is no longer dependent upon this ancient and time consuming method of interaction, the history and spirit of the Silk Road are still a dream sought by tourists either from the East or the West.

Along the Chinese section of the Silk Road, there are numerous famous historic and cultural sites. The best known is in Xi’an, where the life-sized Terra-cotta Warriors and Horses were excavated from sites near the tomb of Emperor Qin Shi Huang, known as the eighth wonder of the world. Of the countless other attractions, there are also Dunhuang’s Mogao Grottoes, sometimes called an “Oriental Art Treasure”.

Loulan was an ancient state in the desert and houses the Ruins of the Ancient City of Gaochang. The road also goes through unique and magnificent natural surroundings, such as Flaming Mountains and Grape Valley in Turpan City, Yadan Landform in Lop Nor, Birds Island in Qinghai Lake and Tianchi Lake on Tianshan Mountain. These places are very attractive to visitors.

In some areas along the Silk Road, there are many ethnic minorities, including Uygur, Hazak and Tajik people. They have great hospitality and unique traditional cultures, life styles, religious beliefs, songs and dances. They add another dimension to the charm of the Silk Road.

When the central government began developing West China, they realized the tourist resources in these regions were endless. The various tourist facilities in the locality are improving day by day, and there have been significant advances in communications. As a result, the Silk Road has become one of the most attractive theme routes for tourists.