Yanguan Pass in the vicinity of Dunhuang, China
Yanguan Pass - reliable protection on the Silk Road
The Yanguan pass is located 70 km west of Dunhuang. This is one of the oldest outposts, which was part of a defensive system of the Great Wall of China, and has survived to the present day, though a few ruins and signal tower are only left from a large and well-fortified fortress.
The Yanguan pass was built in 121 BC under the Western Han Dynasty (III c. BC - I century AD.), in order to protect the country’s west from attacks of the northern nomads. When the Silk Road was in operation, Yanguan was considered an important terminal and fort with a garrison defending travelers and caravans from the attacks of those nomads. Since there was not a single fortress or a city around, for miles, this outpost was the only bulwark for the tired caravans where they could have a rest and stock up some water before one of the most difficult and dangerous Silk Road sections.
This outpost is associated with many Chinese legends. One day, many centuries ago, a beautiful princess from the Tang Dynasty, was passing through the Yanguan outpost on her way to her fiancé. She carried many treasures and gold coins as a dowry. During the trip, she was caught by a sand storm, which knocked the chests with treasures down and scattered them across the desert. So if you find a gold coin of the Tang Dynasty in the outpost, then you're in luck: you've found the famous treasure, which for several centuries dominates the minds of the locals.
The outpost had some work on restoration of this historic monument done. Some parts of the fortress were partially restored, so the tourists from all over the world can get an idea of a famous Yanguan outpost in its original state.