Xian, the old capital of China, is today a big and lively modern city interrupted with pockets of antiquity and calm. It is the perfect example of the constant contest between China's ancient history and new economy. The structures in the Old Capital gallery are mostly from the Ming city (Ming dynasty approximately 1368-1644 CE) built on the ruins of the Tang era capital city (Tang dynasty 618-906 CE). The Ming city only occupied the space formerly taken up by the imperial palaces and therefore about one quarter the size of the Tang city. The modern city though sprawls out beyond the confines of the old city walls, holding a population of about 5 million people.

Qin Shih Huang, First Emperor of China, also had his capital here. His tomb and the magnificent terracotta army that surrounded it are the main sites surviving from this region's earliest deput as an imperial capital.

My first visit to Dunhuang was in August, 2001. It was one of the places I had always dreamed of visiting but never really expected to reach. I traveled with a group of teachers, organized by Primary Source, on a study tour of the Silk Road.

Everyone loves pictures of sand dunes and camels. And I shot a bunch of rolls of both. There are also several shots of the exterior of the Mogao Grottoes, including the famous pagoda over Dunhuang's Big Buddha.

Unfortunately, photography inside the Buddhist cave temples in Dunhuang is not allowed except by special permission. To experience the beauty of the Caves of a Thousand Buddhas see Dunhuang, Blazing with Faith, a MonkeyTree media site.