Dunhuang is situated between Urumgi and Yumen. It was an oasis irrigated by the Tang River and began to serve as an main way station on rade route between China and Central Asia since the first century B.C. when Emporor Han Wu-ti started to expand the empire westwards.
Dunhuang was made a prefecture during 117 BCE by Emperor Han Wudi, and was a point main of exchange between China and the outside world, in the Han and Tang dynasties.
Formerly, Dunhuang was a city of military importance. Nowadays its name even is mentioned as part of the homeland of the Yuezhi.
Dunhuang was an town where several races lived together. Chinese (in the ethnic sense), Tibetans, Uighurs, Hsia, Mongols, and others resided here.
In Dunhuang, on the mountains nearby, buddhist cave-shrines started to be constructed from 366 A.D., in which wall paintings were stored, and sculptures were created and maintained. Nowadays, the place is an important tourist attraction and an ongoing archaeological project.
Actually, the center of the city is relatively highly developed, including much commercial activity and several hotels. One can find in the bookshops, materials relating to the Caves and the history of the region.
There is a night market situated in the city centre, very popular with tourists. Several souvenir items are sold, including such typical items as scrolls, small sculptures, jade, hangings, jewelry, and the like.
Usually, members of China's ethnic minorities engage in business at these markets.
References of Dunhuang
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