Scattered over an area of two million square metes at the foot of Fiery Mountain about forty-five kilometers southeast of the town of Turpan, this site is divided into three parts: an outer city, an inner city, and the imperial palace. Most of the city walls are still well preserved, the highest section being twelve meters high. Within the city walls are the remains of broken houses, earth pagodas, and a network of streets. Most of the houses were built with rammed earth or mud bricks, with arched doorways and windows.
Gaochang City was the political and cultural center in China’s northwest for 1,500 years from the Han Dynasty, when the government began to station garrisons there, until the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), when the city began to deteriorate.