Famous markets of Yarkand (Shache), China

Hospitable Yarkand - a city on the bank of a river

In the western outskirt of the Takla-Makan Desert, in the Yarkand River water gap there lies one of the ancient cities on the southern branch of the Great Silk Road. Yarkand city, or Shache in Chinese, is one of the largest cities of Xinjiang-Uygur Autonomous region of China. The city’s name originates from the Yarkand River; the city itself is located in a picturesque place, on the cliff of the Yarkand river bank.

The city sprang up in the I millennium BC as a transhipment place for caravans, moving along the Great Silk Road, and is considered one of the main trade centers of Eastern Turkestan. Late in the I century AD, the city was occupied and annexed to China by Han troops headed by General Ban Chao and faded in importance for some time. Later on, under the Tang dynasty Yarkand became again a strategically important point on the Silk Road.

When you come to Yarkand, you must visit the Old Town which consists of few circummured residential quarters. There, you can clearly see what kind of city Yarkand was in the middle of the previous century. The lanes between the houses, medieval structures in an oriental style attract with their unusual beauty and atmosphere of olden time. Furthermore, among the city’s landmarks there are such monuments of architecture as the Amani Sakhan Mausoleum and Golden Mosque (1533), as well as a cemetery of the rulers from the Sayidy dynasty.

Modern Yarkand is one of the main transport hubs in the west of China. The roads to Tibet, India and Kashgar intersect there. The city is one of the largest agricultural oases in the territory of the Takla-Makan Desert. Wheat, cotton, various fruits and silk are mainly produced there. The main Yarkand population is the Muslim Uygurs, besides representatives of other Central Asian peoples can be met there. The city-folk are very friendly and hospitable.

As one of the main trade centers on the Great Silk Road, Yarkand was famous for its markets, where goods from all over the world could be bought. Furthermore the local masters handed down from generation to generation the manufacturing know-how for carpet and silk products, the city is famous for, and which can be bought in the large local bazaars. All those who love shopping will have great pleasure from buying souvenirs as a keepsake of the trip to Yarkand.

Travelling through Western China you should visit Yarkand because, there rather than elsewhere you can get a full idea of the cities’ life on the Great Silk Road in the period of its heyday.