Urumqi, the capital of China’s western region of Xinjiang, is not as bad as everybody says it is. At least I don’t think so and I hope to prove that to you with these recent photos I’ve taken.
Travel guides generally steer you away from Urumqi in favor of other Silk Road outposts and unfortunately with all the bad international press the city has received lately many people never get a chance to see the beautiful side of the capital. I’m not going to lie and say that Urumqi is my favorite city in Xinjiang even though I live here, but I believe in making the best out of my current circumstances.
I’m going to begin with the most popular view of Urumqi – the view from the top of Hong Shan (红山) – and then move to what I consider to be more beautiful, but less common views of the city.
It’s interesting to note that this photo was taken several years ago. I need to go up and take an updated photo because there is a lot that has changed, including two massive towers that many have named the “Twin Towers” (also home to Xinjiang’s first Burger King)
Earlier this week I took another trek up the Yamalike Hill on the southeastern portion of Urumqi.
It was a clear day and my goal was to capture this photo of the city at dusk with the beautiful TianShan range in the background.
From a higher vantage point, here is a panoramic shot of the city – and this is just the bottom half of the Urumqi! Click on the photo to get a bigger view.
Now if I could only find this same photo taken 20 years ago, that would be incredible to compare!
One of the most visible sign of Urumqi’s recent growth is series of connecting elevated highways that encircle the city.
Mostly they’re eyesores but I’ve found that at night when it is lit up and backed by a beautiful, clear blue sky…it’s actually quite nice.
Did you know that Urumqi has two of these pagodas? The most famous is in Hong Shan Park, of course, but a kilometer to the west there is another pagoda. The Urumqi river, which has since dried up, used to flow between the two massive rocks where these pagodas now live.