I can often find great beauty and inspiration in old, abandoned objects. This blog is about an entire abandoned city, which strikes me as being both very beautiful and rather eerie. The photographs were taken by my husband Alex and daughter Isla during their trip along the silk road in 2010. Alex has provided the information on the city’s history.
Our daughter Isla feeling the 38C heat
The city of Jiaohe was built on an islet in a river, with the high cliffs around its plateau forming a natural fortress. No one knows when it was first settled but it first became the capital city for the Turpan region in around 180 BC and remained an important centre on the silk road until it was abandoned after being sacked by Genghis Khan in the 13th century. At its peak the city is thought to have housed around 7,000 people during the Tang dynasty.
Buildings were a mix of carved loess soil and mud brick
The city is protected by steep cliffs all around
The Turpan area is a bleak desert that bursts into life where there is water
Jaiohe city walls
Centuries of weathering carves mud bricks into fantastic shapes
A buddhist temple can still be recognized
In the early twentieth century, the archaeologist Aurel Stein complained that local people were carrying away material from the site to make new buildings but today the ruins are protected by the Chinese government. New paths have been laid for tourist access and a lot of conservation work, plus some restoration has taken place.