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Ruins of Jiaohe City

These ruins, ten kilometers west of Turpan, are considered to have been the frontier post of the outer Cheshi Kingdom during the Han Dynasty. In the sixth century Jiaohe Prefecture was established with the original Jiahe City as the seat of the prefecture government. Jiaohe City was built on an island at the confluence of two rivers, occupying an area of 230,000 square meters. Most of the remaining buildings are from the Tang Dynasty (618-907) and later times, and they fall into three categories: temples, civilian residences, and administration buildings. What is left of the town indicates three interesting things about it: (1) that its doors and windows did not face the street – a peculiarity of Tang Dynasty architecture: (2) that courtyards and rooms were dug from the earth, like cave dwellings – a specialty in China’s northwest; and (3) that no city walls were necessary because the town was surrounded by cliffs – a feature decided its peculiar terrain. The fact that Jiaohe’s houses have been preserved so well is mainly due to the area’s dry climate.

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