- Travel Guide
- - Crescent Spring
- - Echoing Sand Mountain
- - Mogao Grottoes
- - Yangguan Pass
- - Yumenguan Pass
Located on the east part of Hexi Corridor in Dunhuang City of Gansu Province, Mogao Grottoes is 25 kilometers (16 miles) in the southeast of Dunhuang City with 1,680 meters (1,837 yards) long from south to north and 50 meters (164 feet) high, which is famous all over the world for its fantastic murals and colored clay sculptures, and it is bestowed with the title of “the Oriental Louvre Palace” and it is considered as “One of the Four Grottoes in China” together with Yungang Grottoes of Datong City in Shanxi Province, Longmen Grottoes of Luoyang City in Henan Province and Maijishan Grottoes of Tianshui City in Gansu Province.
Cut during the Former Qin Dynasty (351 A.D.～394 A.D.), the construction continued in the Northern Dynasties (386 A.D.- 581 A.D.), the Sui Dynasty (581 A.D.-618 A.D.), the Tang Dynasty (618 A.D.-907 A.D.), the Five Dynasties (907 A.D.- 960 A.D.) and the Yuan Dynasty (1,206 A.D.-1,368 A.D.) with more than 1,600 years history, and it has 735 grottoes and over 2,415 colored clay sculptures with the fresco area of 45,000 square meters (53,819 square yards) in all, which is the biggest and most colorful Buddhist holy place in the world. As a well-known tourism attraction in Dunhuang City, Mogao Grottoes attracts millions of people from all over the world to visit it every year, and it was considered the key culture relics under state protection in 1961 and it was enlisted in World Cultural Heritage by the UNESCO in 1987.
The main features of Mogao Grottoes
Mogao Grottoes is actually a large scale grotto art gallery in the world, which is composed of the ancient architectures, the sculptures and the frescoes on the whole, and the roofs and the walls of the grottoes are carved with the statues of the Buddha, the Flying Apsaras, the fairies and the Skill Music, which are full of imaginations and fantasies for the visitors from all over the world.
1 The architecture art
More than 500 grottoes are engraved with frescoes and colored sculptures in Mogao Grottoes, among which there are the Buddhism Grottoes, the Palace Grottoes, the Pagoda Grottoes and the Vault Grottoes as well as some small Buddhism towers in the grottoes. The sizes and forms of the grottoes are very different from one with another, and the biggest grotto is as high as 40 meters (131 feet) high and 30 meters (32 yards) wide, however, the smallest one is less than 0.3 meters (0.98 feet). Besides, there are the Nine-storied Tower with a big Buddha in it and the Sutra-Preserved Cave in Mogao Grottoes, which reflect the perfect integration of Chinese and Western architecture style in ancient times. And some of the grottoes are the masterpieces of the ancient architectures.
2. The colored sculpture art
As the main body of Dunhuang Art, the colored sculptures in Mogao Grottoes are mainly in the shapes of the Buddha, the Bodhisattva, the Heavenly Kings, the arhats and the men of great strength. The forms of these colored sculptures vary from one to another, including alto-relievo, basso-relievo and shadow-carved sculptures, and the tallest one is 34.5 meter (113 feet) high and the smallest one is only 2 centimeters (0.07 feet) high, which can be called “the Museum of the Buddhist Colored Sculptures”. The themes of the colored sculptures are mainly about Buddhism. Besides, there are human figures, reflecting various arts and cultures in different times, which is an integration of Chinese and Western religion and ethnic relations in ancient times, and they all have great history and art value in the world.
3. The fresco art
The frescoes in Mogao Grottoes are rich and colorful in contents, including the stories of the Buddhist sutras, the natural sceneries, the buildings, the mountains and the water paintings, the flower patterns and the flying Apsaras as well as the ancient farming and production scenes, recovering the great changes of the folk customs and history in more than 1,600 years. The frescoes from different dynasties are distinctive from one with another in style, reflecting the economic, political and cultural conditions of feudal society in ancient China, which are the glorious chapter in the history of the Chinese Fine Arts, and they provide material evidences for researching the ancient Chinese history.
After visiting Mogao Grottoes, Some visitors from abroad said that: “You have seen the whole civilization in the world after you visit Mogao Grottoes”, and some said that “It is really the longest and largest as well as the richest art gallery in the whole world.”
It is 25 kilometers (16 miles) in the southeast of Dunhuang City, and you can take a taxi to get there directly from Dunhuang City center with the ticket fare of CNY 35, and you can take a bus from the front of Silu Hotel in Dunhuang City to get there directly. It is open to the public from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm every day.
Some travel tips for the visitors to Mogao Grottoes
1. Take a flashlight with you, because you are only allowed to watch the culture relic with a flashlight to better protect the frescoes in the grottoes.
2. You are not allowed to take a camera into the grottoes, because the light will destroy the culture relics in the grottoes.
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