Mingsha Hill (Míngshā Shān 鸣沙山) is known as one of the "Eight Great Landscapes" of Dunhuang. This 40 km (25 mi) long mountain is made up of huge mounds of sand, with the highest point reaching 250 m (820 ft). Also known as the Echoing-Sand Mountain, or Singing Sand Dunes, an old tale describes this site as a once beautiful oasis in ancient times. A war between two armies supposedly ended here, with the troops being buried by strong sand winds, their cries still echoing from the mountain. Though unlikely to be the cries of those..
These two gates formed the westernmost expansion of the Great Wall and represented the fringes of Chinese civilization for centuries. Yumen Guan (Yùmén Guān, 玉门关), the "Jade Gate Pass," and Yang Guan (Yáng Guān, 阳关), the "Sun Pass," were built by Emperor Wudi more than 2,000 years ago and protected the Hexi Corridor entrance near Dunhuang from Hun invasions. After the Han Empire solidified its control over the vital corridor along the Silk Road, the fortresses became trading outposts for jade caravans arriving from..
The Mogao Caves (Mògāo Kū, 莫高窟), also known as the Caves of the Thousand Buddhas (Qiān Fó Dòng, 千佛洞), are a group of 492 cave-temples in southeast Dunhuang. These astonishing caves, or grottoes, were dug out of the bedrock and cliffs sometime in the fourth century. The story goes that a Buddhist monk named Lè Zūn had a vision of a thousand Buddhas bathed in golden light, inspiring him to build a cave there. During the Tang Dynasty there were over 1,000 caves carved into the cliffs in Dunhuang. However, those..
What's left of the Shandan portion of the Great Wall in Gansu faces the twin dangers of natural erosion and human destruction. Most of the Wall is split up, broken, crumbling and piereced by kilometer-wide gaps. Still, for Great Wall enthusiasts, history buffs or tourists visiting Dunhuang, a visit to the best of the ruins is well worth the effort. The Shandan Great Wall (Shāndān Chángchéng, 山丹长城) was first built over 2,000 years ago during the Han Dynasty, but it was not well maintained in the centuries tha until the..