Lanzhou, capital of Gansu Province, is a major stop on the ancient "Silk Road" west of Xi'an. Situated on the upper reaches of the Yellow River, Lanzhou has been important for thousands of years because of the Hexi Corridor, or Corridor West of the Yellow River,in which early Chinese civilization began. About 3,000 years ago, in the Zhou Dynasty, agriculture began to take shape in the basins of the Jin and Wei Rivers that formed the corridor, marking the beginning of the great Yellow River basin civilization.
Starting in the Qin Dynasty, merchants and traders traveling from Xi'an to central Asia and then on to the Roman Empire, or the other way round, broke their long journey at Lanzhou. To protect this corridor and important communications hub, the Great Wall was extended under the Han as far as Yumen, in the far northwest of present-day Gansu Province.
Lanzhou became capital of a succession of tribal states during the turbulent ventures that followed the decline of the Han Dynasty. During this time of turmoil, people began to turn to ideologies that satisfied their need for hope. Taoism developed into a religion, and Buddhism became the official religion in some of the northern states. Buddhist art also flourished, and shrines were built in temples, caves, and on cliffs. From the fifth to the 11th centuries, Dunhuang, beyond the Yumen Pass of the Great Wall, became a center for Buddhist study, drawing scholars and pilgrims from afar. It was a period in which magnificent works of art were created.
Lanzhou Travel Guide
On a map of China with a scale of 1:260,000,000, draw a circle at a radius of 90 mm (3.54inches) to include all China in it, and you will find that the center of this circle is Lanzhou, the capital city of northwest Gansu Province. Lanzhou is not only the geometrical center of China but also a center in the northwest in terms of transportation, telecommunication and the Silk Road Tourism Ring. Covering an area of 1631.6 square kilometers (629.96 square miles), Lanzhou is home to a population of 3.14 million, including Han, Hui, Bao'an, Dongxiang, Tibetan, Yugu and Sala and more.
Lanzhou used to be a key point connecting the central China and the western region as well as a vital city on the Silk Road. Today, Lanzhou is a hub of the Silk Road, with Maiji Caves to the east, Bingling Thousand Buddha Caves to the west, Labrang Monastery to the south and Dunhuang Mogao Caves to the north.
With mountains in the south and north of the city and the Yellow River flowing from the east to the west, Lanzhou is a beautiful modern city with both the grand beauty of northern cities and the prettiness of southern cities.
The Landscape along the Yellow River should not be missed, as Lanzhou is the only provincial city through which the Mother River runs. Whether you choose to roam along the River, to cross the First Bridge over the Yellow River, or to have a cup of eight auspicious teas at the Watermill Park, you will be impressed by Lanzhou with its harmonious combination of the modern and the old.
Chengguan,Qilihe,Xigu,Honggu and Anning are the five districts comprising Lanzhou's downtown. Chengguan District, situated in eastern Lanzhou, is the center of politics, economy, culture, scientific research and transportation. In northwestern Lanzhou, Anning District is the economic development zone as well as the area where most colleges are located. Zhongxin Square, also named Dongfanghong Square is the largest in Lanzhou situated in the central area of the city. There is Dongfanghong Department Store in the south, Guofang Shopping Center in the east and Lanzhou Gym sitting in the west. The square is the daily entertainment place for local people and is also an ideal shopping area for tourists. The popular commercial streets in Lanzhou are mainly Qingyang Lu, Zhongshan Lu, Jiuquan Lu, Zhangye Lu, Yongchang Lu, Qin'an Lu, Longxi Lu and Linxia Lu, etc.
While the natural parks around the city such as Yan Tan Park and Shifogou National Forest Park will restore and refresh you, the White Pagoda Park and the Five-Spring Mountain Park will give you an understanding of the cultural side of Lanzhou.
If you want to experience something more exciting, the Bingling Thousand Buddha Caves, Labrang Monastery and Sangke Prairie should satisfy you thoroughly.
Besides the above-mentioned attractions, the hospitable locals, multifarious restaurants, cheap yet delicious snacks, and convenient transportation system will all ensure that you get a memorable trip in this tolerant and placid city.