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Home Xinjiang Travel Guide Xinjiang Attractions Stone City in Tashkurgan: a Timeless Fortress Through Time

Stone City in Tashkurgan: a Timeless Fortress Through Time

Tashkurgan, which means “stone city” in the Uyghur language, got its name because of the ancient stone castle in the north of the city. Tashkurgan Town is one of the highest towns in the world, located in Tashkurgan Tajik Autonomous County, Kashgar Prefecture, Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.

The Stone City ruins in the northeast of Tashkurgan Town is a famous heritage along the ancient Silk Road which dates back to the Jin Dynasty. Perched at an altitude of 3,700 meters, this ancient stone city ruin boasts a strategic location and an imposing presence, with the highest point of its city wall being more than 20 meters. According to its location and remaining relics, some archaeologists believe the city was the site of the ancient Heptanese Kingdom in the Tang Dynasty, an important pass on the Silk Road.

Fast Facts of Tashkurgan Stone City

  • Location: Tashkurgan Town, Tajik Autonomous County, Xinjiang, China
  • Opening Hours: 10:00-19:00
  • Ticket Price: CNY 30 per person
  • Size: the circumference of the stone city is about 1285 meters; about 100,000 square meters
  • Time Needed: Around 2-3 hours
  • Highlights: The ruins of the ancient city, including the stone walls, gates, towers, and other structures; the surrounding natural beauty.
  • Suited to: History enthusiasts, archaeology buffs
Xinjiang Tashkurgan Stone City
Tashkurgan Stone City

Things to Do at Tashkurgan Stone City

Explore the Layout & Ruins of the Stone City

The Stone City is a small but perilous fortress that is surrounded by layered walls. Now, some of the walls have been broken, leaving a unique view of piles of stones. The current remaining ruins are from the Qing Dynasty, comprising of outer city and inner city. The remaining ruins are only a tenth of the original structures in the Han and Tang dynasties.

Outer City

The outer city is the residential area which has been significantly damaged now. Yet visitors can still discover traces of the former city walls, the residential ruins, and artillery platforms. On the western and northern walls of the outer city, horse faces (a kind of defensive structure) can still be seen now, and relics of the watchtowers at the four corners are still visible.

On the eastern side of the city, visitors can also see a temple ruin whose walls measure about 18 meters in length and 4 meters in width. Some remnants of murals and a Buddha image are still preserved.

Inner City

The inner city is mainly comprised of the royal palace, government offices, officials’ residences, and temples. The structures in the inner city are better preserved, with most of its city walls, battlements, parapets, corner towers being intact. But the palaces, offices and residences are mostly collapsed, only stones, earthen walls and a few large boulders can be seen now.

Enjoy the Stunning Natural Views 

The Tashkurgan Stone City is perched on a hill, with snow peaks towering around, and grasslands and rivers stretching below. These vivid surrounding sceneries sharply highlight the desolation of the ruins. To look down from the Stone City, a stunning view will be unveiled in front of you, with cattle and sheep grazing on the grassland and the rugged snow-covered mountains stretching into the horizon.

You will be rewarded with a more impressive view if you visit the Tashkurgan Stone City in autumn, when the grasslands in this area transforms into a golden hue.

Visit Tajik Folk Village

The folk village is just beside the golden grasslands below the Stone City. It well preserves the traditional lifestyle and traditions of the Tajik people. A visit to the village will offer visitors an in-depth understanding of the life and culture of Tajik ethnic groups. Also, locals will entertain visitors with their traditional folk performances and delicacies.

Recommended Xinjiang Tours including Tashkurgan Stone City:

Stone City Xinjiang
Enjoy the Stunning Natural Views

Best Time to Visit

Tashkurgan has a relatively dry climate. The best time to visit Stone City and surrounding areas in Tashkurgan is from June to October. During this time the temperatures are comfortable and rainfall is less, allowing for a better enjoyment of the natural scenery.

August and September are particularly recommended as they are the months for local fruit harvest, offering you a chance to savor some local fresh produces.

For photography enthusiasts, sunset is the ideal time to capture great photos when the fading light reflects a golden hue on the ruins and stones.

How to Get to Tashkurgan Stone City

There is no airport nor train station in Tashkurgan, most visitors get to the town from Kashgar, then take a local bus or walk to the Stone City. It is about 291.24 kilometers from Kashgar to Tashkurgan.

From Kashgar to Tashkurgan, you can either take a taxi or a shuttle bus from Kashgar Bus Station or Kashgar International Railway Station. There are typically 2-3 departures daily, and 9:00 a.m. bus is recommended. It is also possible to hire a private car or join a tour for a more comfortable and convenient journey.

Attractions Nearby

  • Karakoram Highway:The Karakoram Highway is one of the most scenic drives in the world, offering stunning views of the surrounding mountains and valleys.
  • Karakul Lake: located about 200 km from Tashkurgan, Karakul Lake is a stunning alpine lake surrounded by snow-capped mountains.
  • Muztagh Ata: Muztagh Ata is a majestic mountain located about 60 km from Tashkurgan.

Travel Tips for Tashkurgan Stone City

  • It’s recommended to take a coat even in July and August, since the high-altitude causes this area a large temperature difference between day and night.
  • The local Tajik people are very hospitable and welcome visitors to visit their family. Then may also provide their local food and drink for visitors. You can offer some money to them to show your appreciation. Generally, CNY 20-30 is appropriate.

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