Kashgar Old Town


The Old Town is the soul of Kashgar, and as such the government has spent much of the past two decades knocking it down block by block and building a modern replacement. Yet it's still possible to see some of the remaining alleyways: check out the neighbourhood near Donghai Lake in the eastern part of the city. Around Jiefang Lu there are also alleys lined with Uyghur workshops and adobe houses that have withstood the passage of time.

Where they exist, houses range in age from 50 to 500 years old and the lanes twist haphazardly through neighbourhoods where Kashgaris have lived and worked for centuries. It’s a great place for strolling, peeking through gates, chatting to the locals and admiring the craftspeople as they bang on tin and chase copper.

Traditional houses in Kashgar, rarely more than two storeys high, are built with poplar timber and mud bricks. Walls are very thick but usually unadorned on the outside. The inner courtyards and balconies, however, are decorated with woodcarvings and hangings.

At the eastern end of Seman Lu stands a 10m-high section of the Old Town walls, which are at least 500 years old. Much of the rest of the Old Town has now been enclosed by modern walls.