At the foot of the Flaming Mountain, about 46 kilometers (about 29 miles) southeast of Turpan lying the Gaochang Ruins. The ancient city of Gaochang, and the ancient city of Jiaohe, which both locates nearby by Turpan City, are the best-preserved ruins of the ancient cities in China.
Being built in the 1st Century, this ancient city used to be the transportation hub in the Han Dynasty. 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.
During the successive dynasties, it was ruled as Gaochang Prefecture, Gaochang Kingdom and West Prefecture in different period. 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.
The ruins are an irregular square, covering an area of about 2,200,000 sq meters. The layout is similar to that of Chang’an City (today’s Xian)in the Tang Dynasty (618-907). The Gaochang City is regarded as the mini copy of Chang’an City in the Tang Dynasty. The city is built with tamped earth. Among the nine gates of the city ruins, the west is the best preserved one. 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.
Since the Hang and the Tang Dynasty till the Yuan Dynasty, Gaochag Kingdom functioned as the key point for transportation of Central Asia, Europe and Ancient China. The business were rather active. And the economy exchange also boosted the cultural exchange. The religions of different parts of the word was also brought to China and the different religions mixed and continued developing there.
Though the Gaochang city was abandoned for about one thousand years, the city ruins witnessed the up and downs of this area. From the ruins we could still see the prosperity of the ancient Gaochang Kingdom in the Tang Dynasty.