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  Mogao Caves

Brief / profile

Also known as the Cave of a Thousand Buddhas, the Mogao Caves are a system of Buddhist cave temples as well as one of the three famous ancient sculptural sites in China. It has been listed as the UNESCO World Heritage Site.


It lies 25 kilometers southeast of Dunhuang City, Gansu Province.

Function or value in the past
Buddhist cave art was an Indian export to China. This scenic spot was originally a place for spiritual search.

The cave temples appeared at Mogao in the 4th century when pilgrims, monks and scholars passed by the
Silk Road and settled here to mediate sutras. Buddhism established in the whole Chinese empire during








the Tang Dynasty. At the same time, the monastic community reached its peak. However, new sea routes gradually took place of the Silk Road after a period and Mogao was neglected. The caves there were abandoned in the 14th century. In 1900, a Taoist monk Wang Yuanlu came to Mogao Caves by chance. He realized its importance at once and determined to excavate and renovate the caves. After severe damage, the Mogao Caves became a national monument in 1961. Today, it’s a key scenic spot.

Legend and Story
According to a legend, Lie Zun a Buddhist monk established the first cave in 366 AD. He had a vision of a thousand Buddhas and persuaded a wealthy Silk Road pilgrim to sponsor the first temple. Later, many people followed his example.

Present condition

There’re altogether 600 surviving cave temples, but only 30 of them are open to the public.


Visitors can take a minibus to this attraction. If you plan to spend only half a day there, you should get there as early as possible since buses will return to Dunhuang at noon and afternoon buses will return at 18:00.

Admission fee.

The admission fee is RMB 160 from May 1st to October 31st and RMB 80 from November 1st to April 30th.


Mogao Cave is open to the public form 8:10 to 18:00.

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