Turpan

Located in a depression approximately 80 meters (262ft) below sea level, Turpan is a dry and extremely hot city. Nicknamed the Oven, temperatures in the summer soar to 40 C (104 F). In contrast, winters are bitterly cold, with temperatures dropping to -15 C (5 F) and most visitors try to avoid the cold season between November and March. Despite the extreme weather, visitors enjoy coming to this relaxed and friendly town. 70% of the population are Uighurs and they make a concerted effort to make visitors feel welcome. The locals have even covered the main walkways and paths with vine trellises which transforms normal streets into charming green tunnels.

Turpan is synonymous with grapes and wine which is the area most famous product. Despite the stifling heat and dry climate, delicious and succulent grapes are cultivated here due to the ingenuous irrigation system installed over 2,000 years ago that transfers water from the glaciers. Visitors go to the Grape Valley to sample the juicy fruit at its best.

Although Turpan is no longer a major Chinese city, during the Han dynasty (206-220BC) it was a crucial part of the Silk Road. The ancient cities of Jiaohe and Gaochang were strategically important and powerful centers of trade. The ruins of both these cities can be found near modern day Turpan.

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