Zhangye: exploring the colourful mountains of Danxia and ancient grottoes of Mati Temple

Zhangye is a lively yet laidback city located in the centre of the Hexi Corridor, a strategically important corridor on the ancient Silk Road. Squashed between the dramatic peaks of the Qilian Mountains to the south and endless desert to the north, the narrow strip of land that makes up the Hexi Corridor offered the only feasible option to enter and exit China to the west for those journeying on the Silk Road. Historically, Zhangye was one of China‚Äôs frontier cities, and an important stopover between the Chinese empire and Central Asia. Marco Polo reportedly spent a year living in Zhangye around 1274. 

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