Dunhuang's Wall

One of the results of China's rush to modernize has been the conscious transformation of the urban landscape.  Many lament the disappearance of the picturesque old residential areas (hutongs) in cities such as Beijing.  In locations such as Kashgar and Dunhuang, among the victims of modernization have been the historic defensive walls.  There is only one small section of the old wall left in Kashgar, and even less of the original Han fortifications of Dunhuang, as the picture below illustrates.  Lest we think this treatment of historic architecture is unique to China, we might remember that in Europe most of the medieval walls that had protected but also constricted the growth of European cities were torn down in the modern era, often being replaced with ring roads to accomodate modern traffic.