The Ruins of Ancient City of Gaochang in Turpan

Why is The Ruins of Ancient City of Gaochang So Special?

In the boundless desolate Gobi desert stand the ruins of the ancient city of Gaochang, shining like a resplendent precious stone inlaid in the barren desert and shining on the Silk Road. It is located at the foot of the Flaming Mountain, about 46 kilometers (about 29 miles) southeast of Turpan. Withstanding the test of time and weather, the ancient city of Gaochang, and the ancient city of Jiaohe, are the best-preserved ruins of the ancient cities in China. These two cities were added to the World Heritage List on June 22, 2014.

Where is The Ruins of Ancient City of Gaochang

The Ruins of Ancient City of Gaochang(吐鲁番市高昌故城)  is located 47 kilometers to thee southeast of the city of Turfan , the Gaochang Ruins is near the Flaming Mountain on north.

History of The Ruins of Ancient City of Gaochang

It was a political, economic and cultural center of Xinjiang in ancient times. The existing parts of it consist of three parts built in different times. The first part is the outer city, which is square in shape, 5.6 kilometers in circumference. The second is the inner city,occupying the center of the outer city. The third is the palace city, which is situated in the northern part of the Gaochang city. There are still some earthen platforms remained in the palace city. In the southwesrern part of the outer city there is a temple of the Tang and the Gaochang Uighur periods. In the Han times, here was called Gaochangbi. In the former Liang times, the Gaochang Prefecture was set up here. During the northern Wei and the beginning of the Tang Dynasty, the city became the capital of Qu`s Gaochang Kingdom. Up to the Tang Dynasty, the West Prefecture was set up here. And in the Gaochang Uighur periods,the Also Protector General was set up in the city. After having been in use for 1400 years, the Gaochang City was burnt down in a war. The existing parts of it mostly belong to remains of Gaochang Uighur periods. Now it is a major cultural site under state protection.

Brief Introduction of The Ruins of Ancient City of Gaochang

The city was initially built as a garrison town in the first century B.C., called Gaochang Wall, and later renamed Kharakhoja, Kocho or King City. It was a key point along the Silk Road. During the successive dynasties, it was ruled as Gaochang Prefecture, Gaochang Kingdom and West Prefecture. By the 14th century, the city was damaged and abandoned due to warfare between Mongolian aristocrats and Uigurs. After 2,000 years, the weather-beaten ancient city still displays its past greatness and glory even though the walls are incomplete the magnificent outline remains.

Main Attraction of The Ruins of Ancient City of Gaochang

The ruins are an irregular square, covering an area of about 2,200,000 sq meters (2,631,178 sq yards). The layout is similar to that of Chang’an City in the Tang Dynasty (618-907). The city is composed of three sections: an outer city, an inner city and a palace city. The outer city with a perimeter of 5.4 kilometers (3.4 miles), is enclosed by a city wall of 12 meters (39 feet) thick and 11.5 meters (37.7 feet) high, and built with tamped earth. Nine city gates are located in the four cardinal points: three in the South, and two in each of the other directions. The gates in the west are the best preserved. In the southwestern and southeastern parts of the outer city stand two temples ruins. The temple in the southwestern corner consists of a gate, a courtyard, a sermon hall, a sutra depository and monks’ abodes. The southeastern temple consists of a polygonal tower and a worship grotto, where splendid murals remain well preserved.

The inner city, situated right in the middle of the outer city, has a perimeter of 3 kilometers (2 miles). The western and southern parts of the city walls are well preserved. The eastern and southern parts were badly damaged, only with the northeastern highlands and the southeastern earthen platforms are still visible. No trace of the inner city’s gates remain.

The Palace City is located in the north of the inner city, sharing its southern wall with the inner city and northern wall with the outer city. It is a rectangle with a perimeter of 700 meters (2,296 feet). Within the city, many large cornerstones remains are still visible, with an average height of 3.5 meters (11.5 feet) to 4 meters (13 feet). These cornerstones are relics of a 4-storied palace. An irregular adobe square standing in a high earthen platform is called “Khan’s Castle”, which was the imperial residence.

Best Time to Travel The Ruins of Ancient City of Gaochang

Every autumn, that is, August and September, is the best time to visit Turpan.

At this time, the weather began to cool and the fruits began to mature. This is a very suitable time to travel. At this time, most scenic spots began to hang attractive gold. Let’s travel in the golden ocean. The natural scenery around Turpan is very beautiful. In our spare time, we take our family to Turpan to play, eat delicious fruits and enjoy different local conditions and customs. I believe this is a very beautiful moment and a very happy memory.

How to Get There

  • Take the tourist bus from Turpan to Doushan, it stops at Shengjinkou, then transfer to motorcycles from Shengjinkou to the site.
  • Take a bus from Turpan to Sanbao Township Government, and then transfer to motorcycles to get there.
  • Take a taxi.

Useful Travel Tips

Admission Fee: CNY 40
Opening Hours: 08:00 – 17:00


  • The best time to visit Turpan is from June to August when various melons and fruits are ripe, so you may taste the delicious fruits. The Grape Festival held in August every year is also quite exciting and very enjoyable. During the Grape Festival, a variety of cultural activities such as evening parties, and the grape wine festival are enjoyable events to attend.

Nearby Attractions

Recommended Xinjiang Tour Packages

Edited by Doreen/张洋