Introduction to Jiuquan (Suzhou) & City Prefecture
Jiuguan Landmarks & Monuments
Among the many landmarks of Jiuquan City, the oldest historical relics are those unearthed from a tomb of the Wei (220 AD - 265 AD) and Jin Dynasties (265 AD - 420 AD) in Xigou Village of Jiuquan City Prefecture. At this location various ancient objects were unearthed, among which various statues and ritual funerary objects, majestic murals and a collection of inscribed bricks. Head out to Xigou Village to inspect the Buried Tomb by yourself (no photos allowed) or head to the newly built Silk Road Museum near the center of the Central Town (Suzhou District) to see an entire exhibition built around the objects unearthed.
You Tube Video - Chinese Nuclear Test CHIC-6. An athmospheric test of an air-dropped bomb.
The Gate itself has recently come to symbolize the existence of the Jiuquan Space Base, however in fact its famous quotation relates back to the 1950's Era when China sought to achieve its own nuclear capabilities, having been forced to do so after the Soviet Union abandoned all cooperation. In a Famous National Defense Initiative, known Nationally as the project of 2 Bombs and One Satellite, scientist and workers descended on the sandy oasis town of Jiuquan and Area, to create a top secret nuclear testing facility. Thus, the Gate is the symbol of both the struggle and the success of the Chinese Nuclear Program, which in turn inspired the birth of the Chinese Space Program.
At this ultra remote location in the inner lands of China, far away from curious onlookers, the top of China's Revolutionary Scientists and Engineers were secluded in order to achieve China's Nuclear Independence. In the End the result was an atomic bomb, a hydrogen bomb, inter-continental ballistic missiles and the first Chinese Satellite in Orbit, giving the Nation not only a viable nuclear deterrent force, but also for the first time opening up a window into space. Through the works done at Jiuquan (and Universities and Facilities throughout the Nation), the Peoples Republic of China had become an International Superpower. It was a considerable achievement and nationally counted with even greater value, as it marked the re-emergence of the Nation (as promised by the leading Communist Party) after what had been a Century of Humiliation at the hands of Foreign Invaders.
Unspeakable sorrows had been cast upon all Chinese, each and every person and family in the Nation, a fate that might just have been lifted with the creation of a National Nuclear Defense.
The Chinese Space Program and Nuclear Force were born through the arduous labors of tens of thousand, all of of whom suffered hardships and long working hours, altogether changing the face of the Little town at Jiuquan Oasis, as well as the restoring pride to the Nation.
From the earliest days of existence of the Base, there was a Large Ceremonial Gate at the entrance, with the above proclamation. The now famous phrase was coined by none other than Mao Zedong himself, who in turn derived it from an ancient Chinese Sage. The phrase inspired the workers on the base hugely, at many times remembering all involved in the project of their grave responsibilities for the future of the Nation, while at the same time re-assuring them of the millennia old 'fact' held by many Chinese, the inner believe in the ultimate superiority of Chinese Civilization.
The Gate still stands today and serves as the Main Landmark of Jiuquan 'Space' City -at least for Foreign Nationals, due to the fact that the actual Base, known as Dongfeng space city （东风航天城，or Base 10（十号基地）or Dongfeng base（东风基地), is off-limits to all Non-Chinese visitors. Only Chinese Citizens may visit as part of a Tour Group.
Thus, Jiuquan Space Base is, as yet, not one of Gansu's International Tourist destinations, although the mere existence of the Base near Jiuquan in itself has increased the number of international visitors to this otherwise remote and unexciting town in the rocky desert.
In Fact, although the Chinese Space Program was born through the research and testing activities going on at Jiuquan Base, the actual Base of today, Zone 10 which includes the Launch Facility, is not even part of Jiuquan, nor Gansu Province, but is located more to the North, in the desert expanses across the border with Inner-Mongolia. To be exact the Base is part of Ejina Banner (额济纳旗), of the Alashan League (阿拉善盟) in remote western Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.
The Jiuquan Nuclear Research Facility was set up in the early 1950's and by the year 1958 AD the program had advanced so far that the construction of a rocket launching facility was required. The natural site to be chosen was the town of Jiuquan, already a top secret location. Thus, in 1958 the Dongfeng (No.10) Base, which included a Launch Facility and Flight Test Center started operations.
Juiquan's Dongfeng Base is the oldest and most frequently used of the total of three launching facilities within the peoples Republic of China. During its time the base saw the launch of China's First Balistic Missiles, the Launch of the First (athmospherically tested) nuclear payload, the Launch of the First Chinese (artificial) satellite, and the launch of China's First Manned Space Flight. No doubt in the Future the base will be a cornerstone of further successes of the Chinese Space Program and will go on to deliver many more amazing achievements.
Next up in the Line of Monuments of historic importance but often forgotten due to the modern buzz that has captivated the audience and city alike, is the nearby Great Wall of China at JiuQuan. Although often overlooked as of cultural importance by the locals, old remnants of the ancient Tang Era (618 AD - 907 AD) extenses of the Great Wall can be found strung along an East-West line dotting the surrounding country side. Near today's main highway, eroded mounds can be seen, marking the location of ancient Fire Beacons that served a communications purpose along the defended and patrolled pathway of the Silk Road during the Tang Era. Head out in the direction of the Jiayuguan Airport, West from Jiuquan, to find a length of earthen wall, parts of an ancient Defensive Wall of the Tang that predates the later Ming Dynasty Era Great Wall by many
Surviving remnants of the Han (and Tang) Era Great Wall of China, a 2000 year old mud-brick wall with watch towers and beacons, lies in the Desert south of JiayuGuan Airport. Other sections are eroding away at other locations to the East and West.
Another item on the List of worthwhile places to go visit in and around Jiuquan City in Gansu must be the recently opened "Silk Road Museum" of Jiuquan. Only recently opened, in the spring of the year 2009 AD, this brandnew Museum is dedicated to the historic finds made in the Region, especially near the Jiquan of today. The exhibition explains the early history of the Silk Road, using costumed lifesize dolls, video displays and other modern utensils. In all, its is a fairly impressive experience, and although proper understanding may require some prior general knowledge of Silk Road history, the museum is definitely a welcome addition to any itinerary of Tourist visiting town. Those with special interest in the early history of the Silk Road and the Wei and Jin Dynasty Tombs of the Era should pay a visit as many of the relics found are on display at this Museum.
centuries. Although the Tang Era Empire would extend far beyond Kashgar into Central Asia, during an earlier Era the Tang Dynasty had built defenses based upon earlier held strongpoints constructed during the Han Dynasty Era (206 BC - 221 AD). During that time, the Great Wall of China extended as far West as the Lop Nor marshes, located beyond the Bai Shan (White Mountain) Range and Yadan Landforms within Xinjiang-Uygur Autonomous Region. Although seemingly not much to look at, these earthen remains are roughly 2000 years old, and among the rare surviving great wall sections from this Era. Due to wind erosion and climatic changes, most Han & Tang Dynasty Era section of the Great Wall in this region are expected to have disapeared, finally reverting back to desert lands.
Oddly, no worthwhile remains of the Ming Era Great Wall of China are reported or can be found at JiuGuan proper, however, it is only a short drive to nearby Jiayuguan, the famous location of the Western End of the Great Wall of China.
Other ancient relics of earlier Times can be found inside the City Center (Suzhou District) in the shape of the Old Town's combined Bell and Drum Tower, dating from the year 346 AD during the Jin Dynasty Period (265 AD - 420 AD), and the XiFeng Temple of unreported date.
"Gansu - Grottoes on the Ancient Silk Road"
( no longer available )
The Silk Road Museum of Jiuquan of Gansu Province in West China:
Great Wall of China at JiuQuan - Remnants of the Han Dynasty Wall:
Take a break from all the dusty historic relics, not to mention the often hot desert climate by making a trip to Jiuquan Park. This small lake area, boasts a history of over 2000 years, as it is THE location of the legendary famous old spring which supported the Town throughout its lengthy history. An outflow of a local aquifer, clear ancient melting water from the snowy tops of the nearby Qilian Shan sprouts from the ground at Jiu Quan -Wine Spring- Lake. Todays mouth of the well is paved with white marble and there is an inscribed board mentioning: "Jiuquan Wine Spring - Scenic Spot of the Eastern Han". From this point, the spring water flows northward into a lake which has a landscaped island with a small pavilion in the center, a stone bridge crossing and willows weeping around it. It is a great spot to enjoy the shades, cool down at the waters edge and enjoy food, company and conversation. Find the Park in the East part of Suzhou District.
Jiuquan Park & Wine Spring Lake in East Suzhou District (Jiuquan):
With the recent boom in national and international tourism throughout China and along the Pathway of the Silk Road more and more Tourist Venues are opened, mainly targeting the Chinese Audience. One such place in the so-called Jiuquan Area is the Western Han Dynasty Scenic Spot, found some 1.9 kilometers east of Suzhou District. It covers an area of 270 thousand square meters and prides itself to be the only surviving Han-style garden with a history of 2000 years. Although this claim must be hugely exaggerated since after the Fall of the Han Dynasty the entire region reverted many times to nomadic foreign rule, and thus no garden could have survived, this location is one of the three mouths of the Jiuquan Aquifer Spring. The place cab best be seen as a pleasurable Garden Park celebrating the History and Legacy of the Han. Inside the garden, there are the usual lakes, mountains and stones. Statues commemorating Han Dynasty Era Generals, Poets and Sages have been added to impress.
The most popular landmark of the City today however dates from a completely different Era, the early years of the Peoples' Republic of China in the 1950's, after the completion of its lengthy 'Socialist Revolution'. The Landmark in case is a Large Ceremonial Gate at the entrance to the city that proclaims: "Without Haste, Without Fear, We Conquer the World".
Jiuquan's Secret Base, Nuclear Weapons and today's JiuQuan Space Launch Facility:
To many visitors surprise their is even a Christian Church in Jiuquan 'Old Town'. Built conspicuously of red mortared walls in contrast to the white chalked homes of the citizenry, a church with tower with cross riding atop protrudes above the surrounding low rize buildings of the Old Town inhabitants.
The history of this Church goes, as yet, unreported, leaving visitors to wonder if its unusual occurence in this Hui, Uygur, Mongolian and Tibetan Ethnic Region is due to the earlier martyring of the Portuguese Jesuit missionary and explorer Bento de Góis (1562 AD -1607 AD), who -as was later found- was robbed at Jiuquan and died destitute and rather alone in this for him foresaken place.
Christian Church in Jiuquan:
Historically, the Old Bell & Drumtower was constructed as part of the Eastern Gate of the then City Walls of Suzhou, a military garrison city and strongpoint along the vital strategic Hexi Corridor. Suzhou had existed since these western regions were first claimed as Chinese Territory during the reign of the Han Dynasty. As the town prospered along the Silk Road and expanded, the City Walls were moved and the old tower became the combined Bell & Drum Tower of the larger Town, sounding the hours & watches, thus determining the daily rhytm of life for all local citizens.
The Tower itself is of a simple and unsomphisticated style in a common traditional Chinese Style. Based upon a redbrick platform, which one formed part of the City Wall, it has upturned eaves, painted pillars, yellowed balconies and little wortwhile decorations. Yet, at this remote location along the main thoroughfare of the old town radiates some magnificence and authority. A Three storied wooden structure, the old tower holds four telling inscriptions above its 4 gates, leading to the four main directions of the Compass. The First Plaque with inscription, hanging above the Eastern Gate reads: "Welcoming Mount Huashan Shan in the East", refering to the Taoist Holy Mountain which lies far beyond along the Silk Road pathway, just a little beyond the starting point at Chang'An (Today's Xi'An) in Shaanxi Province. The Second Plaque with Inscription reads: "Connecting with Qilian Mountains in the South", refering to the snow-topped Mountain Range which forms the Southern Border and Barrier of the Hexi Corridor. Above the North Gate the inscription reads: "Leading North towards the Desert", which is true, as even today beyond the road to the North lies virtually nothing but the desert wastelands of the Gobi Desert (in Inner-Mongolia AR), which extend a good way in all directions without any signs of Civilization. For this very reason it was chosen as the perfect location of a secret nuclear base and missile development and launch center. Last, on the Western Side of the Old Bell & Drumtower is declared: "Through to Yiwu in the West". Yiwu today is known today as the desert Oasis City of Hami, located far to the West, well withing the large Xinjiang-Uygur Autonomous Region.
Although originally constructed in the year 346 AD, the current Tower is a restored and slightly altered version dating to the Guangxu Reign (1875 AD - 1908 AD) of the Qing Dynasty (1644 AD - 1911 AD). The Tower was recently repaired, redecorated and painted in an effort to please the large influx of tourists.
The latest and most modern of all Landmarks of the new City of Jiquan Prefecture is not the Satellite Launch Center but a brandnew Project popularly known as "The Three Gorges of the Air". One of the best representative faces of a inventive and modern Chinese Nation, this giant windmill park under construction has already become a must see item on a visit to this remote desert City.
As reported widely within and outside of China the Three Gorges of the Air are set to become China's first 10 million-kw wind power station and is expected to reach this capacity in the year 2010 AD. Delays have however already been encountered and a year 2011 Date seems more likely. Eventually, the energy capacity derived from the project is planned to top at 20 million-kilo watts (in 2020). Compared to its counterpart of hydro-electric energy, the JiuQuan windmill park is becoming the largest such project in the World.
Jiuquan "Three Gorges of the Air" - Largest Wind Energy Project on Earth:
Although desert near Jiuquan seems quite barren, this has not always been the case. In fact, one of the Yellow Rivers major tributaries in the wider regions flows just North of the City of Jiuquan. Head out on your own guidance to find the wetlands of the Hei River located due North of Jiuquan in the general direction of the Space Launch Center, near Jinta and County. The GPS coordinates given for the Nature Reserve are 40° 30' North 99° 12' East, which is due West of the Hei River itself. Here at an altitude of 1,000 to 1,924 meters lies the Jinta Nature Reserve, a restored wetlands area with a surface area of 1,800,000 hectares. The main terrain type of this region is Eurasian steppe and desert, however amidst the barren desert wildlife thrives in various ponds and extensive marsh area's.
The north edge of this Nature reserve is formed by Tangke-Hongxing Road, the south edge is formed by Tangke-Ruoergai county road, the east edge is formed by Ruoergai-Diebu National Road (No.213), and the Che’niya River, the Hei River and Tangke-hongxing National Road (No.213) together form the western edge of the Jinta Nature reserve.
The boundary of the wetland is the same as the boundary of current nature reserve.
Inside the Nature Reserve many reservoirs have been (re)constructed, forming a chain that extends for around 130 kilometers from South to North. More than 20,000 waterbirds were found on migration during a survey in 1988.
Threatened species that frequent the Jinta and other Heihe wetlands include Otis tarda (which bred along the river in the 1950s and 1960s but were extinct since the 1970s), Columba eversmanni which was rare when a suvey was conducted in 1984.
Desert ruins of Khara-Koto, Black City, Heicheng (黑城) or Halahaote:
Although not in any way close to being a landmark of Jiuquan, the City of Jiuquan does serve as the start-off point fo expeditions to the remote ruined City of Khara-Koto in Inner-Mongolia Autonomous Region. THIS ROUTE IS HOWEVER NOT OPEN TO FOREIGN NATIONALS as it travels through the Territory of Jiuquan JSLC, also known as Base 20. Base security will stop your Car or Bus, check ID and permits and turn you back.
Anyone found dwelling within the Base Perimeter, especially carrying camera's will be in Trouble with Base (Military) Authorities.
Chinese Nationals ONLY, or the first Foreigners with permits: organize your own small expedition and travel some 420 Kilometers Northward along the Hei River to end up in the Badain Jaran Sand desert near the Town of Dalaihubu in Ejin Banner. There lie the ancient ruins of Khara-Koto, once the thriving Silk Road City and Capital of the Tangut or Western Xia Empire.
Find out more on Khara-Koto (or Heicheng) - CLICK HERE !