Home : City Guide: Turpan: Attractions

Ancient Cities and Tomb

Ancient City of Gaochang, Turpan, Xinjiang Ancient City of Gaochang (Kharakhoja)

The ruins of the ancient city of Gaochang lie 46 kilometers (29 miles) southeast of Turpan City. Originally built in the first century B.C. and known as Gaochangbi, Gaochang became the capital of the Gaochang Kingdom in the 9th century. In the 13th century, the city of Gaochang was abandoned because of wars. Gaochang was a key point along the Silk Road, with many merchants and traders as well as a plethora of religions gathered here.

Archeological evidence and historical documentation revealed that the site of the city contained markets, temples, workshops and residences. The ruins cover an area of more than 2,000,000 square meters (about 494 acres) and consist of three parts: the outer city, the inner city and the palace. The outer city was surrounded by a thick rectangular wall with nine gates; three in the south and two in the other three directions. In the southwest section, a temple consisting of an entrance gate, a courtyard, a chanting hall, a main hall and a residence is still clear in layout. The inner city is badly decayed; only the western and eastern parts are preserved. Khan's Castle in the middle of the western part is considered to be the ruins of a palace.

Although many buildings are no more than ruins, the ancient city of Gaochang still stands as a symbol of the long history and monument of the Silk Road.

Admission Fee: CNY 23
Recommended Time
for a Visit:
One and a half hours

Recommended China Tour with Turpan Gaochang Ruins
14 Days China Tour: to Beiing, Urumqi, Kashgar, Turpan, Dunhuang, Xian, Shanghai
16 Days Silk Road Tour: Beijing, Xian, Jiayuguan, Dunhuang, Turpan, Urumqi, Kashgar, Shanghai
22 Days Silk Road Panorama: Beijing, Urumqi, Korla, Kuqa, Aksu, Kashgar, Hetian, Minfeng, Korla, Turpan, Dunhuang, Xian, Shanghai

 Astana-Karakhoja Ancient Tomb

Astana-Karakhoja ancient tombs are located 42 km (26 miles) east of Turpan City. As the public cemetery of the ancient Gaochang Kingdom, the tombs are known as the Underground Museum of Turpan because of the magnificent historical relics founded there in. 

The tombs are 5 km (3.1 miles) from east to west, and 2 km (1.2 miles) from north to south. Covering an area of 10 sq km (about 2,471 acres), most of the tombs date from the end of the second century through to the early ninth century. The tombs were divided by families and each of them contains many funerary objects. Money, wooden figures, household utensils and paintings, even foods are well preserved because of the arid climate. The interred bodies soon became desiccated after burial, with most of the dead becoming mummified, though they still appear vivid and alive.

Only three chambers are open to the public at present. To assist in preservation, visitors must not touch the murals inside while visiting.

Admission Fee: CNY 20
Recommended Time for a Visit: Half an hour

 Ancient City of Jiaohe

As the oldest, largest and best preserved earthen city in China, the ancient city of Jiaohe lies in the Yarnaz Valley, 10 km (6.2 miles) west of Turpan. The city was the capital of Chechi Kingdom 2,000 years ago, and was also an important garrison during both the Western Han (206 BC - 24 AD) and Tang Dynasty (618 - 907).

The island where Jiaohe City hides, surrounded by two rivers, resembles a willow leaf with a length of 1,600 meters (about 5,249 ft) and a width of 300 meters (about 984 ft) at the widest part. A broad avenue served to divide the city into three parts: the residence of temples and officials, the residence of common people and the workshop area. Buildings in the city are quite special that ancient residents dug caves into the earth and built houses over them, so the buildings are half-buried in the earth. Many of these underground buildings are still well preserved to this day. The only brick building in the city is a grand temple in the southeastern section.
Most of the buildings we see today were built during the Tang Dynasty. As one of the most special earthen cities in the world, ancient Jiaohe is indeed worth a visit.
Admission Fee: CNY 30
Opening Hours: 08:10 to 10:00