The Silk Road was a historic commercial route that connected Europe to the Middle East and Asia. It served as a key commerce route between the Roman Empire and China, as well as between medieval European countries and China. Where did the Silk Road begin and where did it end? The Silk Road begins at Xi'an, north-central China (in modern Shaanxi province). From here, goods were transported by caravan over 1,000 miles (1,600 km) to Bukhara in Uzbekistan. From Bukhara, travelers continued their journey over 1,500 more miles (2,400 km) to Dali in western Yunnan province, before heading east across the Tibetan plateau to Beijing.
So, the Silk Road began in China and ended in China. However, there are other routes used by traders that connect regions within China: the Tea Highway and the Grand Trunk Road. These larger roads were used when transporting large quantities of silk or tea; they ran through each of the regions along the way providing access to all major cities and trading posts.
In addition to these two major trade routes, there were also smaller roadways that ran through each region. These roads were used primarily for transportation of local products to marketplaces outside the immediate area. Some of these local roadways became so popular that they have survived into the present day under various names (such as the Yarlshale Route in Britain).
The term "silk" used in its name refers to both the quality of the silk and the fact that merchants would often transport goods along with their payment.
The route began in Constantinople (now Istanbul, Turkey), then passed through Antioch in Syria, before reaching Jerusalem where it turned north towards the Germanic kingdoms of Justinian I and Charlemagne and ended in Peking (now Beijing). From there, traders would have traveled overland through Central Asia to the Indian subcontinent and on to Southeast Asia.
In addition to serving as a trade route, the Silk Road also played an important role in spreading Buddhism from India to China. By the 15th century, almost all of China was Buddhist while only a few regions of Europe were Christian.
Silk production and trading became major industries on the Silk Road. In fact, between 200 and 600 AD, more than 10,000 miles of roads were built on the route to facilitate trade. The number of travelers increased as well, with estimates ranging from 100,000 to 1 million people per year.
The Silk Road is widely thought to have begun in Chang'an and ended in Daqin, the ancient Chinese name for the Roman Empire. The Silk Road, which spanned more than 14,000 miles and connected ancient China to Western Europe, was the primary mode of transit. Goods including tea, silk, and gold were traded over long distances between various cultures with no centralized authority. The route started in Chang'an and went through Central Asia, Iran, Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, and Portugal.
Silk was first produced by B. mori moth larvae that had eaten the mulberry plant. They produced cocoons from which silk cloth could be made. Silk was first used by Chinese about 2,500 years ago. It was imported from India and elsewhere along the Silk Road. By the 13th century, China was using more silk than all other countries combined.
In Europe, the demand for silk increased after the invention of the paper mill around A.D. 900. By the 15th century, most of the silk consumed in Europe came from China. In the 16th century, Portuguese sailors discovered how to breed silkworms on board their ships. This discovery led to an increase in the production of silk in Japan. Today, China is again the world's largest producer of silk. However, due to the high cost of producing silk and the competition from synthetic materials, its market share is declining.