Yangguan Pass was originally built by the Emperor Wu during the Han Dynasty and was one of the two most important passes (the other is Yumen Pass) that served to protect Dunhuang from invasion from the west. Yangguan Pass means ‘Southern Pass’ in Chinese, and is 75 kilometres southwest of Dunhuang.
During its heyday, this pass’ system of beacon towers and walls marked the western border of the Chinese Empire, although it seems slightly difficult to imagine this today since unfortunately great sections of Yangguan have been buried in the desert’s shifting sands. There are now hardly any walls in sight, and the only visible sections are the wall’s foundations. There are some ruins near the wall, the last piece evidence of a lost era.
The famed poet of Tang Dynasty, Wangwei, has made the site immortal. When he set off with one of his best friends, Wang wrote “In Weicheng, the central town, it rains lightly in the morning. All the houses and the willows look fresh after the rain. I suggest you have another cup of wine, because as soon as you leave Yangguan Pass, there are no friends”.