Turpan was a key passageway on the Old Silk Road. The prefecture lies in the center of Turpan Basin on the southern side of Bogda Peak, branch range of Tianshan Mountains. The temperature there remains above 30°C for 146 days a year, with the highest up to 49.6°C. So this prefecture is called “Fire Land”. Turpan has been well known as a place where cultures of different ethnic groups and cultures of the West and East meet and fuse. Among many famous historical sites in this prefecture are the ruins of Gaochang City, the ruins of Jiaohe City, Bizaklik Thousand-Buddha Grottoes and Karez Well.
Located in a depression with the area of more than 1000 square kilometers of the eastern part of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, China, Turpan is a key town on the ancient Silk Road, the chief town of the Turpan depression and one of Xinjiang’s most fascinating cities, known for its strange landscape, wealth of places of historical interest, abundance of fruits and rich resources of ethnic culture. There are 14 unites of the cultural relies, which are the protected by the country. The Flaming Mountain, the ancient cities of Jiaohe and Gaochang, the Emin Minaret, the Bizaklik Thousand Buddha Caves and the special underground irrigation Karez system are of great value and enjoying value. Besides, it is the second lowest continental point in the world after the Dead Sea.
The climate in Turpan is very special. In summer, the temperature can reach as high as 47ºC (117ºF), while on the surface of the sand dunes, it may well be 82℃ (180℉). It is no exaggeration to say that you can bake a cake in the hot sand. The average annual rainfall is little more than ten millimeters; sometimes there is not a drop of rain for ten months at a stretch. Days are exceptionally sunny throughout the year; nut people say it is not difficult to endure the heat of the day when you know the night will be cool. The kind of hot, dry climate is especially beneficial to sugar crops. Fruit trees, melons, and particularly grapes grow very well in the Turpan Depression. Every year, more than a thousand tons of grapes are exported to foreign countries.
In history, Turpan was the capital of ancient Gaochang Kingdom (from the sixth century) and later the administration residence of Xizhou. The depression was the center (A.D. 200–400) of a flourishing civilization in which Indian and Persian elements were combined. This civilization was later absorbed by the Uygurs, who had their capital at nearby Gaochang (9th–13th century).
Turpan used to be an important strategic point on the Silk Road. As early as two thousand years ago, a town called Jiaohe was built forth kilometers from today‘s town of Turpan. Jiaohe then was the capital of the Outer Cheshi Kingdom. During the first century, Jiaohe came under the rule of the Han Dynasty. During the sixth century, Turpan was under the administration of Gaochang Kingdom. During the reign of Emperor Tai Zong (626-649), the Tang Dynasty conquered the Gaochang Kingdom, and Turpan again became a frontier town of China, serving as a stopover for merchants, monks, and other travelers on their way to the west.