URUMQI/XI’AN — Some of the heritage sites along the ancient Silk Road in China will offer free or discounted tickets to celebrate the anniversary of the route’s inclusion on the UNESCO world heritage list.
China has 22 of the Silk Road’s 33 UNESCO heritage sites. The rest eight are in Kazakhstan and three in Kyrgyzstan. The route, which starts in Xi’an, in northwest China’s Shaanxi province, was once the main corridor for trade and cultural exchange between Asia and Europe.
As June 13 is China’s 10th Cultural Heritage Day, which this year carries the theme “preservation for the benefit of the public”, conservation efforts following the inscription have been a hot topic.
Home to six world cultural heritage sites, Xinjiang is developing a heritage protection system that puts more focus on pre-emptive measures. It is integrating monitoring networks to gain a detailed overview of weather and environment data; real-time patrol feedback; and tourist monitoring, the regional cultural relics protection department said.
Xi’an has also made great efforts to celebrate the past glory of the Silk Road.
Xi’an Museum is closely monitoring the famous 1,300-year-old Xiaoyan Pagoda, one of the oldest Buddhist sites in China, as requested by the world cultural heritage management plan.
To prevent exploitation or destruction of the site, the museum is not just protecting the pagoda itself, but also portable relics and even the surrounding trees. Third-party agencies have also been recruited to assist restoration, research and environmental greening efforts.
About 300 kilometers southwest of Xi’an, a cultural park is being built around the tomb of Zhang Qian, a diplomat of the Han Dynasty (206 BC — AD 220). Zhang acted as a political envoy to the Western Regions, or today’s central and west Asia, traveling along the Silk Road.
“Preservation should be driven by the desire to study our valuable cultural heritage,” said Wang Lei, deputy director of Xi’an Museum.