Chinese Section of the Silk Road

Photo in the Public Domain.

Chinese Section of the Silk Road is part of the Tentative list of China in order to qualify for inclusion in the World Heritage List.

The Chinese Section of the Silk Roads includes the Land Route and Sea Route. The Land Route is the ancient trade route that starts from ancient Chang'an, the present-day Xi'an city and the center of politics, economy, and culture in a long period of ancient China. The Sea Route is the maritime trade route connecting the East and the West, distributed along the coastal lines and particularly represented by the sea port cities like Guangzhou, Quanzhou, Ningbo and Nanjing. The Silk Roads is an excellent example for coexisting, communication and melting of multi-cultures.

Map of Chinese Section of the Silk Road

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The coordinates shown for all tentative sites were produced as a community effort. They are not official and may change on inscription.

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Germany - 28-Oct-20 -

Chinese Section of the Silk Road (T) by Nan

Xi'an is a culturally rich city. Being one of the prime cities of China and a former imperial capital it was part of the great trade network of the Silk Road. Indeed, it already holds four components of the existing Silk Road WHS: the Giant Wild Goose Pagoda and the Small Wild Goose Pagoda, the Daming Palace, and the Weiyang Palace. 

The original Silk Road world heritage site ended a little bit east of Xi'an, around another former imperial capital, Luoyang. The two new tentative sites seem to cover two type of sites:

  1. Sites missing from the original Silk Roads world heritage site.
  2. Coastal sites in China.

I visited the Xi'an Mosque and I would clearly place it as a site that should have been included in the existing WHS with the other Xi'an locations. In China, it's the third oldest mosque. And it's not that much younger than the oldest mosques in the world. The fact you find a mosque in China dating back back to 742 CE shows the strength of the trade network. The building has both the features of a mosque as well as the layout of a Chinese temple. My photo should give you an impression.

Unfortunately, I missed several components along my visit to China:

  • As a day trip I travelled to Luoyang but focussed on the Longmen Grottoes and Dengfeng. I did not have time to visit either the inscribed as well as the potential Silk Road sites apart from Longmen. Luoyang, to me, would fall into the extension category.
  • On a previous trip, I visited Guangzhou and missed the sites in town. The oldest mosques in China are both located in Guangzhou and they supposedly date back to 620s CE. I write supposedly, as I recently have read up a bit on the revisionist school of Islamic studies. The sites around Guangzhou as well as Quanzhou and Ningpo would fall into the coastal sites for me.


As stated in my Xi'an Walls review, Xi'an Imperial City should be a world heritage site. The Silk Road nomination feels like an unnecessary consolidation price for what is a great site on its own.

I would also approve of an Early China Mosques sites combining Guangzhou and Xi'an. I am not convinced, though, of creating yet another Silk Road serial site.


This post is posted for two tentative sites. The Chinese have managed to create two distinct Silk Road tentative sites. Both seem to be nominated for 2022, though, so I assume they will be merged eventually. Lucky me, Xi'an Mosque is included in both.

Full Name
Chinese Section of the Silk Road
Human activity - Transport and Trade
2008 Added to Tentative List

The site has 6 locations

Chinese Section of the Silk Road: Gongyi Stone Cave Temple - Luoyang City (T)
Chinese Section of the Silk Road: Xi'an Mosque - Xi'an City (T)
Chinese Section of the Silk Road: Ningbo City (T)
Chinese Section of the Silk Road: Quanzhou City (T)
Chinese Section of the Silk Road: Taizang Tower - Turpan City (T)
Chinese Section of the Silk Road: The Underground Chamber of Famen Temple - Baoji City (T)
WHS 1997-2024