Sun Pass

Historic Site in Dunhuang

This Han dynasty military post was one of the two most important gates marking the end of the Chinese empire along the ancient Silk Road. Today, a dusty museum chronicles some of the site's artefacts, but the real draw is the crumbling beacon tower atop Dundun Hill (墩墩山, Dūndūnshān), where a modern viewing platform offers generous vistas of the surrounding Taklamakan Desert.

Sometimes also referred to as the South Pass due to its geographical location as the sunny and southern side of the hill, this site marked the start of the southern route westward through Miran in Xinjiang, while the Jade Gate Pass was its northern twin. The pass is noted in several early Chinese poems, which speak with sadness about the finality of a traveller's departure through the gate and into the western world beyond, presumably never to return.