The Silk Road originated in ancient China is an ancient commercial trade journey which connected Asia to Africa and Europe. It is both an overland and a maritime Silk Road.
The overland Silk Road was shaped between the 2nd century BC and the 1st century AD and kept active until the 16th century. It connected Chinese mainland to Europe in commercial trade and was a main road for exchange of culture, economy and politics between Eastern and Western countries.
Emperor Wu of Western Han Dynasty sent Zhang Qian on a mission to seek an alliance against Huns. Zhang’s journey produced the basic Silk Road which started from Changan City in Western Han Dynasty through Hexi Corridor to Dunhuang. Then the Silk Road went on into two directions: in the south from Dunhuang through Loulan, Khota, Yarkand and Pamirs to Darouzhi and Parthia and then towards the west to Syria and Daqin ; in the north from Duhuang to Jiaohe, Qiuci, Kashgar, through Pamirs to Dayuan, then towards the west through Parthia to Daqin. The Silk Road was firstly used for transporting silk produced in ancient China.
The maritime Silk Road was shaped in the Qing-Han Dynasties, further developed from the Three Kingdoms Period to the Sui Dynasty, prosperous in Tang-Song Dynasties and transformed in Ming-Qing Dynasties. Centered by the South Chinese Sea, this marine Silk Road was also called South Chinese Sea Silk Road. It had played an important role in commercial and cultural exchanges between ancient China and foreign countries.
The 7000 some km long Silk Road was formed through the efforts of several generations in more than 300 years and was maintained through the rest of Chinese history.
On June 22, 2014, the east section of the overland Silk Road – the road network of Chang-Tianshan Corridor was successfully inscribed on the World Cultural Heritage List. It was the first transnational applied project for World Heritage. China, Kazakhstan and Kyrghyzstan jointly made the application.