Yumenguan Pass or Pass of the Jade Gate is located west of Dunhuang in today's Gansu Province of China. In ancient times, it was an important military pass, also a vital route on the Silk Road. It is said that in the Western Han Dynasty, only through this pass could the jade of the Western Regions be brought into the Central Plains, hence the name of the pass.
During the Han dynasty (202 BC - 220 AD), this was a pass through which the Silk Road passed, and was the one road connecting Central Asia and China, the former called the Western Regions. Just to the south was the Yangguan pass, which was also an important point on the Silk Road.
Standing alone among the vast desert, Yumenguan, also known as Small Square Castle, has lost its splendor as an invincible military fortress. You may hardly believe this dilapidated rammed-earth site was once a fierce battlefield and prosperous trading gateway with merchants and camels streaming in and out.
It was a crucial pass along the western border built in the Han Dynasty (206 BC ĘC 220 AD), located at the west end of Hexi Corridor, the gateway to the western regions from central China.
As a huge and complete ancient defensive system, Yumenguan Pass of Great Wall, in a broad sense, refers to a pass-centered strip-shaped region of 25 miles (40 kilometers) long and 550 yards (503 meters) wide, including two castles, 20 beacon towers, and 17 ramparts sites.
Stood along the northern branch of the Silk Road, the oldest international trading route of the world, Hetian jade of Yutian (today's Hetian County, Xinjiang) was transported into the central plain through the pass in old times, hence the name Yumenguan (Jade Gate Pass).
The pass was built from rammed yellow earth and has two gates, the west gate and the north gate, with the latter one being the main entrance. There used to be several offices inside and a staircase at the southeast corner leading to the top. However, these sites cannot be traced at present because of thousands of years of disrepair.
The remaining castle covers an area of 757 square yards (633 square meters), measuring 26.7 yards (24.4 meters) long, 28.9 yards (26.4 meters) wide and 30 feet (nine meters) high.