Silk Road Facts: The Most Interesting On The Internet

Silk Road Facts: The Most Interesting On The Internet

Looking for interesting intellectual gems about China? Look no further, these Silk Road facts are a treasure chest of mental stimulation. And sure, probably familiar with the Silk Road right? In fact, we even talked about it in another Sublime China article. It’s that road that goes from China to Europe and has become a vital piece of history.

Not only is it historically significant, but it’s been a rite of passage for adventurous travelers for decades. The road is lined with stunning natural attractions and cultural hot spots, making it one of the top places to visit in China and beyond.

Now that you’re briefed on the trail, I thought I would share some of the most interesting Silk Road facts going around the internet right now. Here they are….

Silk Road Facts

  • The Silk Road isn’t actually a road. It was more like a route that was pretty involved. The route actually was comprised of sea and road, and it often changed when there was bad weather, natural disasters, bandits, or raids.
  • Camels were some of the main animals used to transport goods along the land sections of the Silk Road.

 

Silk Road Facts: The Most Interesting On The Internet

Photo Source: Silk Road Partnership

  • Despite the name, silk was not the main item traded by the Chinese. Other goods included porcelain, spices, gems, perfumes, ivory, coral, gunpowder, glass beads, and furs.
  • The route was 4,000 miles long!
  • The Europeans brought specialty items along the Silk Road to trade to the Chinese. These items often included wool, animals, slaves, jade, wine, and colored glass.
  • During this time, silk was thought to be just as valuable as gold. It was the perfect item to bring along the trade route since it was so light and easy to carry. Traders carried silk in dyed rolls, raw form, clothing, carpets, embroideries, and tapestries.

 

Silk Road Facts: The Most Interesting On The Internet

Photo Source: Serious Eats

  • Spices were the second most important item that was brought along the Silk Road. The traders used these spices to cover up the flavor of their rotting food and also to preserve food items during their journey. Of course, they traded these valuable spices as well. The most popular included pepper, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, cumin, saffron, mace, and cinnamon.
  • Aside from camels, traders in Central Asia and China would use horses and yaks to carry their goods.
  • While there were many impressive cities on the silk road, the most impressive was Samarkand. This city was at the epicenter of many Chinese routes that met and then went on to reach Europe.
  • Samarkand was quite famous and had a reputation for housing significant people like poets, craftsmen, and astronomers. The city was also well-known for its aqueduct, which provided water for nearly 200,000 people.
  • Many traders didn’t even travel the entire route. They would often head from one city to the next closest one and then pass off their goods to someone else. It went on like this until the goods reached their destination in Europe.
Silk Road Facts: The Most Interesting On The Internet

Photo Source: Nepal Foreign Affairs

  • Caravans traveling on the route were typically guarded heavily. If a caravan was traveling without protection, it was likely to be targeted by bandits.
  • Europe suffered from an epidemic of the Black Death, which killed a large number of the population. It was believed by many that the disease was brought to Europe along the Silk Road.
  • The most famous person from history to travel the Silk Road was Marco Polo. He was also the first person from Europe to document his experience traveling around China.
  • There is a modern route that has been dubbed, the New Silk Road. It is a railway line named, the Eurasian Landbridge. It runs between Russia, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, and China.
  • The Silk Road started in Chang’an which is now called Xi’an, and went all the way to the Mediterranean Sea. It was filled with mountains and deserts in addition to the sea routes.
Silk Road Facts: The Most Interesting On The Internet

Photo Source: Pinterest

  • There were different routes that made up the Silk Road. One route was long but safe and the other was short, but dangerous.
  • It was the Tang Dynasty that really expanded upon the Silk Road and used it the most.
  • Paper was actually one of the most important things to be traded on the Silk Road. It became the most used writing material in Eurasia and had a much bigger effect on history than silk did.
  • The Silk Road wasn’t actually called that during the time it was used. Each section of the route had a different name that coincided with each city that was close by.
  • The name Silk Road was developed in 1877 by Baron Ferdinand Von Richthofen. He was a geographer, and while making a huge map of China, he showed a connecting line between China and Europe. He called it the Silk Road.
  • The Silk Road was at its peak between 500 and 800 C.E, after the Han Dynasty fell.
  • Officials of the government were some of the most important people on the route. They implemented rules on the route and supervised everything quite strictly.
  • While camel travel is usually associated with the Silk Road, they weren’t actually the preferred animals. They were pretty difficult to manage, and most people preferred donkeys and horses or caravans.
  • The Silk Road was a place for much more than just trading goods. In fact, it helped spread new ideas, art, technology, language, and belief systems. There were many scholars, practitioners, linguists, and religious figures that traveled along this trail and spread their ideas and practices.
  • Information about the Silk Road has been discovered through trash that was left behind and preserved by the desert climate. Documents written on cloth, wood, and paper have helped historians understand the culture of the route.
  • The end of the fourteenth century is when the Silk road started to become obsolete. During this time, shipbuilding and navigation improved, which changed the way people thought about travel.

Being such an important part of history, a trip along the former Silk Road has a whole lot to offer. When planning your next trip to China, make sure to add some aspect of this great journey to your itinerary.

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Shannon Ullman

Hey! I'm a published American travel blogger and teacher. My travel writing has been featured on Huffington Post, Elite Daily, Matador Network and Thought Catalog. I spent over a year living and traveling around China while I taught English there. I have also visited dozens of other countries around the world.