Located around 10km west of Turpan, a town on the northern Silk Road in Xinjiang Autonomous Region, the UNESCO World Heritage listed ancient ruins of Jiaohe are situated in the Yaernaizi Valley. In antiquity, substantial floods created the valley. In its centre there is a leaf-shaped platform, which is 1,650 metres long and around 30 metres wide. Surrounded by steep rocks, the valley is approximately 30 metres deep. According to historical data, Jiaohe was founded as a garrison town and was powerful and important. Taken by the Uighars, it was eventually abandoned during the Yuan era, perhaps due to dwindling water supplies or lack of Muslim iconoclasm regarding Buddhist remains.
Occupying a spectacular position on a steep plateau it boasts a clearly visible ancient street plan, making the entire site, although smaller than neighbouring Gaochang, perhaps better defined and preserved. The ruins reflect the size of Jiaohe in its prime years of the Tang Dynasty. Most of the buildings were concentrated in an area of approximately 1000 sq. metres on the southeastern part of the platform. In its prime Jiaohe possessed wide streets and city gates to the east, south and west. Legacies of these ancient times are the well-preserved ruins of official buildings, temples, huts, streets, city walls and also graveyards. A Buddhist monastery complete with dagoba stands in the centre of the city.
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