Dali Ancient City, one of Yunnan's most popular tourist destinations, is located 13 kilometers (about 8 miles) away from Xiaguan in Dali City. It is one of Dali's ‘Three Ancients’-ancient cities, ancient pagodas, and ancient steles. The city’s history can be traced back to the early Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). In 1982, it was listed among China’s top historic cities. Nestled between the Cangshan Mountains to the west and Erhai Lake to the east, the beautiful city has been attracting a large number of Chinese and foreign visitors, with its splendid city wall, traditional Bai ethnic minority folk houses, and fabulous scenery.
The ancient city of Dali served as the capital of two ancient kingdoms, the Nanzhao Kingdom and The Dali Kingdom. It also was a gateway to the Silk Road in Southwest China. With its proper geographical position, it became a major trading center to promote commercial and cultural communication between China and India, as well as a major military barracks for Yunnan Province. The city was surrounded by an ancient protective wall which was over 6 kilometers (3.73 miles) in length, 7.5 meters (24.6 feet) high, and 6 meters (19.7 feet) thick. On the wall stood four city gates in four directions, upon which sat a gate tower. Four further towers were also placed at the four corners of the city wall.