THE SILK ROAD ROUTES [絲綢之路路線(사주지로노선): 비단길경로]


This time the routes of Silk Road will be reviewed.


The Silk Road was a trading route which started from Changan (now Xian) [長安(今西安 )], then Gansu Province, Xinjiang, Central Asia, West Asia [甘肅省、新疆、中亞、西亞] and linked the Mediterranean countries [地中海國家]. It was opened by Zhangqian in Western Han Dynasty[西漢張騫] (202 BC-8 AD). The silk route was consisted by land silk route[ and the maritime silk route[陸上絲綢之路和海上絲綢之路]. The land silk route within China territory was also called "the Northwest Silk Road[西北絲綢之路]" to distinguish it from future another two traffic lines which also called "Silk Road". Because the silk products[絲綢製品] were the most significant goods in this western road (and most of them were transported by China), so this road was called "Silk Road".


I. The Land Silk Route in China Section

The land Silk Route was divided into three main routes in the territory of China, they were:


I-1. North Route of Tianshan Mountain[天山北線] :

Xian[西安] — Dunhuang (in Gansu Province : 敦煌甘肅省) — Kumul (also called Hami in Xinjiang:[庫木爾(新疆也稱哈密)] — Urumqi [( 烏魯木齊) in Xinjiang]— Ili (伊犁 in Xinjiang) — the Soviet Union(蘇聯; in Russia)— Rome(Italy; 意大利羅馬)


I-2. North Route of Western China[中國西部北線]:

ian— Dunhuang — Kumul — Turpan (吐魯番; in Xinjiang) — Karasahr(卡拉沙爾: in Xinjiang) — Korla (庫爾勒; in Xinjiang) — Kuqa (庫車; in the Midwest of Xinjiang) — Aksu (阿克蘇; in western Xinjiang) — Kashgar (喀什; in western Xinjiang) — Pamirs (帕米爾高原; in the middle part of Asia) — Central Asia[中亞].


I-3. South Route of Western China [中國西部南線];

Xian — Loulan (in Ruoqiang County in Xinjiang )[樓蘭(新疆若羌縣境內 )] — Qiemo County (in south of Xinjiang) [且末縣(新疆南部)]— Niya (in Niya Riverside in Xinjiang) [尼雅(新疆尼雅河畔)]— Hotan County (in southern Xinjiang)[和田縣(新疆南部)] — Kashgar*喀什) — Pamirs(帕米爾高原) — Central Asia(中亞) — Western Asia(西亞).

As a major country of the Silk Road, China boasts many Silk Road culture till now for people to dig up more about this ancient history. Section in China can be traced from the following route: Xian – Lanzhou – Jiayuguan – Dunhuang – Turpan – Urumqi – Kashgar [西安——蘭州——嘉峪關——敦煌——吐魯番——烏魯木齊——喀什]。. Each city will tell you different stories and legends which may happen on the Silk Road at that time.


Xian(西安) is a famous ancient capital as the start point of the Silk Road. You can visit Terracotta Warriors, Xian City Wall, and the Shaanxi History Museum [ 兵馬俑、西安城牆和陝西曆史博物館 ] to know the first chapter of the Silk Road.

Lanzhou is a hub for tourists to get to the Hexi Corridor (golden section of the Silk Road) [河西走廊(絲綢之路黃金地段)].

Jiayuguan (嘉峪關) is a well-known site along the Hexi Corridor and the Jiayuguan Pass (河西走廊和嘉峪關關) the westernmost end of the Ming Great Wall) during the silk route era, Jiayuguan was a great important passing point for anyone want to enter or to export the country.

Dunhuang is a famous silk route city. If you have visited the Mogao Grottoes(莫高窟), you may know the profound Buddhism art in the ancient time.

Turpan(吐魯番) is a place for travelers to explore about the ancient city of Gaochang (高昌).

Urumqi (烏魯木齊) is a city grew along side of the silk road, developing from the early days of the silk road to the major habits today, with the population dominated by the Uyghur(維吾爾語) speaking their own Arabic like language. It is an important city in the center of Eurasia with prosperous economic development situation. Kashgar(喀什) was the junction of the south and north routes of the Silk Road.

Kashgar old city is a must see place in your silk route journey. It has 2000 years history and over 1000 years building with twist winding cobbled streets, handmade craft on this old town streets living in people and doing the job for generations.


II. Maritime Silk Route(海上絲綢之路).

In addition to the land silk route, the Tang dynasty(唐代) also developed the maritime silk route.

The maritime silk route could date back to the Qin and Han dynasties[秦漢時期]. It got popular and developed during Sui and Tang years[隋唐年] and reached its heydays in Song and Ming dynasty[宋、明] in Chinese history.

In the middle Ming years, the maritime silk route had experienced being shut down due to the maritime trading prohibition policy from the central government of that time at a state safety concern.

There were a few main ports(主要港口) during maritime route era, such as Quanzhou, Guangzhou, Ningbo, Yangzhou, Dengzhou (泉州、廣州、寧波、揚州、登州), etc.

Quanzhou(泉州) was always the biggest port of ancient China till the Song dynasty and Guangzhou (宋朝與廣州) was the only port left open even when during the prohibition age (禁止年) of Ming dynasty.

There are three main navigations of the Maritime Silk Route:

II-1. East Route(東線) from China to Korea and Japan.

South Route(南線) from China to Southeast Asia.

West Route(西線) from China to South Asia, Arabia and East African coastal countries.


III. The Significance of the Silk Road

The Silk Road played an important role in history. Whether to aspects of history, economic, culture or tourism, the silk road has an indelible significance.

As an important material exchange channel, the silk road primitively connected the goods circulation between the east and the west of the world and later was branded as a "cultural exchange" and played a considerable role in cultural exchange.


Top Destinations along the Silk Road

The Silk Road started from Changan (now Xian), along passed through Gansu Province, Xinjiang, Central Asia, West Asia [甘肅省、新疆、中亞、西亞 ] and linked the Mediterranean countries. There are several significant destinations along Chinese Silk Road.


Silk Road Destination--Xi'an(西安)

Xi'an (ancient Changan-長安), the starting point of Silk Road, located in Shaanxi Province [陝西省 ], was an ancient capital during the heyday of China's external exchange. The most well-known tourist attraction there may be Terracotta Warriors.


Main Attractions in Xi'an:

1. Terracotta Warriors [兵馬俑]: It is known as the eighth wonder of the world, now is a museum to display the terra-cotta warriors and horses which were made in Tang Dynasty.

2. Mt. Huashan [華山] : This mountain is celebrated for its majestic breath-taking crags, steep paths, beautiful scenery and it is said to be the most precipitous mountain in the world.

3. Xian City Wall [西安城牆] : This wall represents one of the oldest and best preserved Chinese city walls, as well being one of the largest ancient military defensive systems in the world.


Top Tours Including Xi'an

4 Days Xian Highlight Tour, 7 Days Beijing Xian Tour


Silk Road Destination--Dunhuang

Located in Gansu Province(甘肅), Dunhuang features the most fantastic desert landscapes.


Main Attractions in Gansu:

Crescent Spring (月牙泉) and Singing Sand Dune (唱歌沙丘): The Singing Sand Dune (Mingsha Hill) and Crescent Spring are twin sisters of natural beauty in the wild Gobi Desert.

Mogao Grottoes (莫高窟): It is one of three noted grottoes in China for its fabulous frescos and statues, and has become a brilliant pearl in the Chinese art treasure troves •Jiayuguan (嘉峪關): It is a well-known site along the Hexi Corridor and the Jiayuguan Pass (the westernmost end of the Ming Great Wall).


Top Tours Including Dunhuang

4 Days Best Dunhuang Tour; 14 Days Best Silk Road Tour


Silk Road Destination--Xinjiang (include Turpan, Urumqi and Kashgar:吐魯番、烏魯木齊、喀什 )

Xinjiang is the biggest province in China, featuring national minority like Uyghur nationality, the Han nationality, the Hui nationality, Kazak and so on.


Major cities to visit in Xinjiang:

Turpan – a place for travelers to explore about the ancient city of Gaochang

Urumqi – an important city in the center of Eurasia with prosperous economic development situation

Kashgar – the junction of the south and north routes of the Silk Road


Silk Road Maps

Maritime Silk Road

Land Silk Route in China
Maritime Silk Road in Indian Ocean


From "https://www.topchinatravel.com/silk-road/what-is-the-route-of-china-ancient-silk-road.htm",

modified by Kwan Ho Chung - November 5, 2021

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