Silk Road Travel from China to Uzbekistan
What to visit?
There are many beautiful natural landscapes and historical sites along the silk road and it's time to pick some destinations and start our journey!
Mutianyu Great Wall:
As one of the best-preserved sections, Mutianyu features densely distributed watchtowers. Some are rarely seen such as the Zhengguan Terrace (No.6 Watchtower), which is comprised of three hollow watchtowers. Renovation work has made it much easier and safer to climb. Moreover, it's equipped with a cable car and a luge, making it accessible to children and seniors.
Tian'anmen Square is the spiritual heart of the world's most populous country. It earned this distinction by serving as the stage for momentous historical events, like the demonstrations on May 4th 1919 that inspired young Chinese to fight imperialists and warlords, and build a strong independent country. Among those swept up in the ferment of the "May Fourth Movement" was Mao Zedong who would help found the Communist Party of China two years later.
On October 1st, 1949, Mao climbed atop the"Gate of Heavenly Peace", which gives the square its name, to proclaim the foundation of the People's Republic of China.
The Forbidden City:
The abode of 24 Ming and Qing emperors of the Celestial Empire, the Chinese royal palace Forbidden City, Also called Palace Museum, the Forbidden City is recognized as the most magnificent and splendid palace complex in China and it ranks as one of the five famous palaces in the world with the Versailles Palace in France, the Buckingham Palace in Britain, the White House in the United States and the Kremlin in Russia.
Xi'an is an important point along the ancient Silk Road as well as a capital of some of the most important dynasties in Chinese history, leaving behind many places of historical interest, such as the Terracotta Army of Emperor Qin Shi Huang (259-210 B.C.).
Xi'an, the capital of northwest China's Shaanxi Province, is an ancient city with plenty of history. The city centre is surrounded by a wall, an ancient military defensive system that has preserved in China.
The city is full of classic Chinese architecture. There are a total of 18 city gates and the South Gate, or Yongning Gate is the most time-honoured and magnificent one.
You can enjoy a leisurely walk or bike on the city wall. The city also houses two museums that showcase its history. Admission costs 30 RMB/Person, with children and students paying half-price. After exploring the city wall, you can pay a visit to the nearby Bell Tower.
The diverse heritage in Xi'an is supreme, particularly with the highlight of Terracotta warriors and horses, a collection of more than 7,000 life-sized terracotta sculptures serving as a protection for the tomb of Qin Shi Huang (the first emperor who unified the country). Historical records reveal that it took over 700,000 people's some 30 years to complete.
Soldier figures are varied in facial expressions, clothing, hairstyles and gestures; so are their horses, chariots and weapons. These masterpieces have provided abundant detailed evidence for the study of the history of military, culture, art, and economics of the Qin Dynasty (221-206 B.C.).
Considered as one of the greatest discoveries of the 20th century, these delicately crafted and painted models have delighted millions of visitors both at home and abroad.
Dubbed "China’s greatest pass under heaven", the Jiayuguan Pass has been the anchor of the westernmost point of the Great Wall in Ming Dynasty, having served as a passageway for armies, merchants and envoys in the old days.
Jiayuguan Pass is a huge building, the grate tower has many stories and hanging cornices, grand and magnificent. On both wings of the pass winds forward the solid great wall with many beacon tower towers reasonably set as a tightly guarded military defence system.
Jiayuguan Pass Great Wall Museum:
Let's continue to visit, you will see the Jiayuguan Great Wall Museum, which is the first museum in China with a special theme of the Great Wall's history and culture. The Museum is equipped with advanced equipment, showing the history, culture, cultural relics and scenery of the Great Wall of Jiayuguan.
Set on the edge of the Silk Road, Dunhuang may seem like an unlikely place to find an oasis of Buddhist art. With towering dunes in the background, the caves here reflect the power of divine inspiration.
The Mogao Grottoes in Dunhuang is considered one of the most important collections of Buddhist art in the world. It is a complex of 492 grottoes adorned with Buddhist statuary and frescoes, created between the 4th and 14th centuries. At its zenith during the Tang Dynasty, the site housed 18 monasteries, more than 1,400 monks and nuns, and countless artists, translators, and calligraphers.
Mingsha Mountain and Crescent Moon Spring:
Six kilometres south of Dunhuang at Singing Sands Dune, the desert meets the oasis in the most spectacular view. From the sheer scale of the dunes, it's easy to see how Dunhuang gained its name "Town of Sand". In the same area is the Shallow Spring fed Crescent Moon Lake, which forms an oasis at the desert's edge. A peculiar natural phenomenon occurs when standing on top of the sand dune. If it's a windless day, a sound similar to a flute can be heard, but if there are many people descending the dune at once it becomes a thunderclap.
As one of the ancient silk road trading post in Xinjiang, Turpan oasis is surrounded by desert and mountains, ruined cities and grottoes.
The Flaming Mountains:
Riding in the Flaming Mountains, it will be a great opportunity to take pictures. Made famous by the ancient Chinese classic novel Journey to the West, the surfaces of these desiccated mountains have been whipped into the shape of flames by howling desert winds. Under the relentless heat of the midday sun, the mountains radiate heat and with a dash of imagination, may appear to be on fire.
One of the most interesting stops on the tour is a Karez Irrigation Site. It's the site the locals are most proud of, and rightfully so-the irrigation method is probably their greatest contribution to desert dwellers and has been employed as far away as Afghanistan and Iran. More than 2,000 years ago, it was developed as a way to bring the snowmelt waters of the Tian Shan to the city through a series of wells dug into underground water channels. By transporting the water underground, they were able to prevent evaporation and to keep dust and dirt out of their water supply. The Karez Irrigation Site is like a museum explaining how the wells are built and maintained and even includes a sample channel and well that you can explore.
The Jiaohe Ruins was built during the Han dynasty as a Chinese garrison town to defend the borderlands, it's less romantic but better preserved than Gaochang. Although the town was razed by Genghis Khan and his Mongol army, many structures maintain some semblance of their original form. Roads lead clearly through the town and a monastery with statues of the Buddha still stands. The town was built on an island at the confluence of two rivers. As the tours usually stop here in the late afternoon, the sunlight turns the stone almost golden and shutterbugs can have a field day.
As the provincial city of the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, Urumqi has become a new metropolis in northwest China over the last few years.
According to ancient Chinese legend, Yaochi is known as the Lake of Heaven, which inspires many romantic love stories. If there is a Yaochi in the real world, it would probably be Tianshan Tianchi Lake in Urumqi.
It is a natural alpine lake shaped like a half-moon. Surrounded by snow mountains with verdant spruce, the lake is like a sapphire falling from the sky, which has drawn streams of tourists.
The International Bazaar:
The International Bazaar is a good place to end our journey. It covers a huge commercial complex with a local food plaza, shopping plaza, ethnic handicraft stores, exhibitions, an outdoor performance square, and mosques. It is the largest Bazaar in China and the landmark tourist attraction in Urumqi.
Silk Road Travel from China to Uzbekistan. 2.5 hrs Flight from Urumqi to Tashkent
We ended our trip at Urumqi. Today we will head to the Doubly landlocked state Uzbekistan.
As the landlocked state in Central Asia, Uzbekistan was once part of the ancient Silk Road, the international route through which traders of silk and other precious goods travelled between Asia and Europe.
Heritage Sites in Uzbekistan:
Uzbekistan is home to 4 UNESCO Heritage Sites: Itchan Kala-the inner fortress of Khiva, Bukhara - known as a city museum, the Historical Center of Shakhrisabz and Samarkand.
The historic town of Samarkand, located in a large oasis in the valley of the Zerafshan River, in the north-eastern region of Uzbekistan, is considered the crossroads of world cultures with a history of over 2,500 years, linking China, India and the Persian Empire.
As one of the oldest cities standing in Middle Asia, today's Samarkand is the country's second-largest city. Samarkand was inscribed as UNESCO-World Heritage Site in 2001 as living monuments to these past interactions.
People of Sugda, famous for running businesses, built this city into a prosperous commercial and capital. UNESCO described Samarkand's most significant period was in the Timurid period "from the 14th to the 15th centuries when it was capital of the powerful Timurid realm."
Ancient Silk Road:
Around 140 BC, Zhang Qian, a royal emissary, left Chang'an, capital of China during the Han Dynasty. He travelled westward on a mission of peace and opened an overland route linking the East and the West, now known as the Silk Road.
Through these routes, Chinese silk, porcelain, lacquerwork and ironware were shipped to the West, while pepper, flax, spices, grape and pomegranate entered China. Cooperation and civilizations blended through leading camel caravans and sailing treasure-loaded ships.