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Yangguan Great Wall

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Yangguan Pass, with a history of over 2,000 years, is located 70 km (43 miles) southwest of Dunhuang City. It is so named because it is situated in the south of Yumenguan Pass (In most regions of China, the south side is the side facing the sun due to the latitude and is called 'Yang' in Chinese).

Early in 114 B.C. in the Han Dynasty (206BC - 220 AD), in order to resist the Huns (Xiongnu) and manage the West Region, the emperor of the Han Dynasty established Yangguan Pass and Yumenguan as well as Wuwei, Zhangye, Jiuquan and Dunhuang counties, and a large number of forces have been stationed here since then. As the main access to West Region and an important conjunction on the south route of the Silk Road, Yangguan Pass was a military stronghold in ancient times. From the Song Dynasty (960 - 1279), it was gradually abandoned due to the decline of the Silk Road.

In ancient times, Yangguan was connected to Yumenguan with a 70-kilometer-long great wall dotted with tens of beacon towers. The original construction has already been destroyed so we can only see are the ruins of beacon towers, among which the one located at the Dundun Hill in the north side of the Gudong Sands is the largest and best preserved. 

A large number of ancient relics were once discovered in the boundless Gudong Sands, including bricks, pottery pieces, coins, arrows, bronze decorations, seals and living utensils ranging from the Han Dynasty to the Song Dynasty, hence the name Gudong ('ancient relics' in Chinese). Where do the ancient relics come from? It is said that an emperor of the Tang Dynasty (618 - 907) married off his princess to the Khotan King to keep a harmonious relationship with Khotan (a kingdom in the western region in ancient times). The emperor also sent a group of retinue to accompany the princess and carry the dowry for her. When they arrived in Yangguan, a strong sandstorm hit the area. The storm lasted for 7 days and buried the villages, cities and fields, as well as the princess's retinue and dowry under the sands. The area was deserted since then. After years, some of the relics under the sands were found by local people, and they named the sands Gudong Sands (the sands of antiques).

Yangguan is known to all not only because it is a famous pass along the great wall and ancient Silk Road, but also for the famous poem wrote by the Tang Dynasty poet, Wang Wei:

Farewell to an Envoy on His Mission to Anxi
By Wang Wei

What's got Weicheng Town's path dust wet is the morning rain,
The willows near the Hotel become green again.
I urge you to empty another cup of wine,
West of the Yangguan Pass you'll see no more of mine.

 Admission Fee: CNY 50

The scenic spot is about 70 km southwest of Dunhuang City, and no public buses reach the scenic area. Visitors are suggested to rent a car to go there. The approximate fare is CNY 150 for a round-trip. 

 Tour Tips: 
 The area has a dry climate with strong ultraviolet, so a pair of sun-glasses, a hat and a scarf are necessary; you are also suggested to take sufficient bottled water;
 Wear a pair of comfortable shoes that are suitable for long walking in sands;
 The nearby Nanhu Lake and Grape Valley are also good places to learn about the local customs.

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