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The Silk Road is an ancient network of trade and cultural routes through regions of the Asian continent connecting the West and East. These routes were followed by merchants, pilgrims, monks, soldiers, nomads, and urban dwellers from China and India to the Mediterranean Sea during various periods of time. Extending 6,000 kilometres, the Silk Road derives its name from the lucrative trade in Chinese silk carried out along its length, beginning during the Han dynasty (206 BC – 220 AD). The Chinese took great interest in the safety of their trade products and extended the Great Wall of China to ensure the protection of the trade route.
Many cities along the Silk Roads developed into hubs of culture and learning. Science, arts and literature, as well as crafts and technologies were thus shared and disseminated into societies along the lengths of these routes, and in this way, languages, religions and cultures developed and influenced each other. Today, many historic buildings and monuments still stand, marking the passage of the Silk Roads through caravanserais, ports and cities making this journey an exploration of a lifetime.