Jiayuguan - The Gateway to The Old Chinese Empire
Jiayuguan, the site of the fort that marks the western extremity of the Great Wall proper, is 600 kms from Lanzhou, at the far end of the Gansu corridor. Located in the Gobi desert, it's been historically the gateway to the Chinese empire from the west.

Jiayuguan owes its existence purely to its strategic position that has been exploited throughout history. Maybe French and Cable's commentary best summarized Jiayuguan's importance:" Only those who have crossed the Gobi roads can possibly understand the thrill and excitement of the traveler when the first tower of Kiayukwan comes into sight, about three miles before the town is reached. Drivers and passengers always raise a shout at the prospect of once more passing the portal of China."
Jiayuguan City Ratings
** The following ratings are based on a scale of 1-10, 10 being the best.
History(6) Art(3) Local Culture/Unique Tour(5)
Nature/Scenic(7) Food/Shopping(3) Night Life(3)
Religion(4) Adventure/Sports(6) Reasonable Cost(8)
Recommended Days of Stay: 1

Quick Facts
Population -130,000
When to go
Tourist Season - May through October;
Coldest Months - January with temperature as low as - 21C;
Hottest Months - August, with temperature as high as 34C;
Sandstorm - March to May;
Strong Wind - November and December
Getting In and Out
By Air - Jiayuguan can be reached by flights from Lanzhou;
By Train - Trains between Urumqi and Beijing, Shanghai, Xi'an, Chengdu, and Lazhou stop here;
By Bus - Jiayuguan is approximately five to six hours away by bus from Dunhuang.


The settlements of Jiayueguan dated back to the 2nd century BC and beyond. From Han dynasty, the government started taking tolls on travelers. The current port was constructed in the late 14th century. It marked the end of Chinese world, a boundary between civilization and the barbarians beyond. Although the Great Wall extended further, this was its last real outpost.

Jiayuguan Pass * * * * *
The Fort itself dated back to Han dynasty, when it was the final stage before traders left the protection of the Great Wall. Dangers to be faced outside were numerous, so travelers were never too keen to leave. It was vividly called 'Gate of Sighs'. It was also common for miscreants to be forced ejected through it - cast out into the wilderness.

Despite its long and venerable history, there is not much to see here apart from the walls and the gates themselves, as the pass is largely empty now.

The Underground Art Gallery/Cave Tombs * * * * *
These tombs, dated back to the Wei dynasty (4th century AD) were discovered in 1972 by a farmer. Currently only one tomb (tomb 6) is open to the public. The paintings on the walls of this tomb are perfectly preserved. They are very simple and small.

More tombs are under excavation. No one knows exactly how many tombs there are at this site.


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