Located just outside Turpan, the ruins of the ancient oasis city of Gaochang are impressive in their huge scale and atmosphere. The city was built in the 1st century B.C. and was an important site along the Silk Road. It was razed by fire in wars in the 14th century. At the centre of the ruins is a large structure that was a Buddhist monastery; the outer walls are covered in niches that once contained statues of the Buddha.