Legendary and real places

Dunhuang is an oasis city in western China on the edge of the Taklamakan Desert. It was once an important transport hub on the Silk Roads. Dunhuang is famous for its Buddhist cave temples, above all the huge Mogao Caves. Between the fourth and fourteenth centuries, rich patrons had nearly a thousand caves carved into the soft sandstone and opulently furnished with figures and paintings. Of great significance for research on Buddhism was the discovery of a cave which had been sealed off in the eleventh century and which contained more than Forty thousand manuscripts. Many of these are now held in Paris and London. The rich textual material, written in different languages and scripts, as well as the many works of art are still being researched in diverse international projects. Since 1987, the Mogao Caves have been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.