Zhangye is a prefecture-level city in northwest-central Gansu province, People's Republic of China, bordering Inner Mongolia to the north and Qinghai to the south.
Zhangye is in the center of the Hexi Corridor. The area was the frontier for much of China's history, forming a natural passage to the Central Asian portion of the empire. In fact, the name Zhangye (lit. "to extend the arm") is an abbreviation of (lit. To extend the arm of the country, through to the Western Realm. During the Western Han dynasty, Chinese armies were often engaged against the Xiongnu in this area. It was also an important section of the Silk Road. The fearsome Mongol Emperor Kublai Khan is said to have been born in the Dafo temple, also the site of the longest reclining wooden Buddha in China.
The city was formerly known as Ganzhou, a name retained both in the municipal region seat Ganzhou District and the Gan of the province of Gansu. In The Travels of Marco Polo, Marco Polo describes spending a year in a city called Campichu, which has been identified with Ganzhou (Zhangye).
Geography and Climate of Zhangye
Zhangye is located in far western Gansu province. In the north it borders Inner Mongolia and in the south Qinghai. It has a large area of 42,000 km2 and is blessed with numerous streams, abundant sunlight and fertile soil, making it an important agricultural centre for Gansu and all of China.
What to see in Zhangye
Zhangye Danxia Lanscape: This is a small park about 40km from Zhangye where you can see a unique geological landscape. The layers of multi-coloured rock in the mountains amid a green oasis basin is truly spectacular. When you visit you will be driven the viewing platforms by bus, where you can get off and take your time to view and photograph the scenery. At the time of my visit many of the platforms & roads were under construction but this didn't defer from the beauty of the place - it was one of the highlights of Gansu province. 40 Yuan + 20 Yuan bus fee.
Blackwater National site: In the 12.5 km northwest of the Zhangye. 15 km long from north to south and 10 kilometers long from east to west, ancient cultural sites of the Neolithic period, a national key cultural relics protection units. Sites within the Han Dynasty tombs, about four square kilometers. Most of the tombs have been buried in sand, who have not traveled was buried by the desert, most of the liberation excavation.
Nanhu Park: Nanhu Park, also known as South Lake Ecological Botanical Garden, located in the south county, is the the Shandan experiment to promote flower species of new varieties of forestry demonstration garden, but it is also a set of historical and cultural landscape of the land and the natural landscape as one of the tour.
Mati Si Temple & mountain scenery: 65 kilometers south of the city proper, in the Sunan Yugu (Tibetan) Autonomous Prefecture, lies the Mati Temple, or Horse's Hoof Temple, (Mati si). Besides the temple you can do a 2h horse tour passing a fantastic landscape ( horse ride 150-200 RMB).