East of Turpan are the ruins of Gaochang (Gaochang Gucheng), the Uigur city-state that ruled the area from around the 9th century to the 13th. The city was actually founded a few hundred years earlier than that, and gradually became known as a trading post on the Silk Road. Although many buildings are no more than ruins, the ancient city of Gaochang still stands as a testament to the long history and importance of the Silk Road.
In its heyday, Gaochang was a great Uigur city built on the business and trade that came through its gates. The religious beliefs of many peoples entered China through this area, first Buddhism and later Islam.
Most of the ruins are gone, but enough remain to give a feeling of the true size and majesty of this Silk Road city. Archeological evidence and historical documentation say that the city contained markets, temples, workshops and residences.
The best preserved structures in the ruins are two temple/monasteries in the southwest and southeast corners of the outer city section. In the southwestern temple, the front gate, courtyard, lecture hall, main hall, and monastic dormitories are relatively intact. The southeast temple has the only preserved fresco in the ruins.
The ruins cover an area of more than 2,000,000 sq meters (about 494 acres), the city walls, made of earth, are set in a 5 km square, with heights of up to 11 meters and width of 12 meters. It consists of three parts: the outer city, the inner city and the palace compound. Surrounding the outer city was a thick rectangular wall with nine gates, three in the south and two each in the other three directions. In the southwest section, a temple existed consisting of an entrance gate; a courtyard, the chanting hall, the main hall and the residences are still identifiable. 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.
China tours inclusive of visiting Gaochang Ancient Ruins, Turpan