Experience the Majesty of Ancient Rome... In China!

Here is a quirky travel idea for you (when travel to China eventually normalizes): Experience the glory of ancient Rome in a village just outside the Gobi Desert.

In 1957, American sinologist Homer H. Dubs outlined his theory that Roman troops worked as border guards for the Western Han Dynasty at the empire’s edge.

Romans in China? 

Dubs suggests that these ancient expats were survivors of Rome’s disastrous loss to Parthia at the Battle of Carrhae in 53 BCE. He believes the soldiers were moved by their captors across Central Asia.

According to Dubs, the far-from-home legionaries were eventually relocated by the Western Han to “a specially created frontier city, to which the Chinese gave their name for Rome, which was Liqian.”

Today, Liqian is a small village of earthen homes in Yongchang county in West China’s Gansu province.

The quaint village is fascinating to wander around and does boast a small monument to the town’s alleged (but unproven) Roman founders.

Liqian Today

The local government has also gone to great lengths to add Romanesque touches to several of the area’s attractions.

While we are skeptical of Dub’s ‘lost legion theory,’ we still strongly encourage travelers to check out this part of Gansu for its stunning landscape, friendly people, and delicious food.