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Silk Road

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The Great Silk Route crosses Asia from China to the Merranean. Caravans have been travelling it for over 2000 years; Chinese silk was reaching Rome before the time of Christ.

Many travellers today follow all or part of this ancient path by train, bus, and private car. Some Wikitravel intineraries partly follow the Silk Road.

The main route from China:

  • start at the (then) capital, Xian
  • go West to Dunhuang
  • then the route splits to go around the Kalamakan desert
    • either go North of the desert, via KorlaKorla
    • or go South of the desert, along the Northern edge of Tibet
  • the routes rejoin at Kashi in the extreme West of China
  • into Central Asia toward Samarkand and BokharaBokhara
  • Southwest through Turkmenistan and into Iran
  • West to Damascus and Istanbul

There were also

  • alternate routes — for example crossing into Central Asia further North into Kazakhstan
  • branches off the road — for example South into Afghanistan and India
  • a Maritime Silk Road — from Chinese ports like Nanjing and Quanzhou to India and the Arab coutries

Marco Polo followed this route, reaching China overland via Kashi and beginning his homeward journey with a ship from Quanzhou to Iran.


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