Here Buddhist monks have struck between the 4th and the 12th century about 1000 caves in the average 17 meter high sandstone cliffs and decorated with Buddhist motifs ( Buddha statues, sculptures and wall paintings). 492 of these caves are still preserved today and partly open to tourists. They belong together with other caves in the area of Dunhuang Dunhuang Grottoes.
In 1900, the Daoist monk Wang Yuanlu discovered around 50,000 documents from the 4th to the 11th century, the monks had immured in 1036 in a cave in order to protect them from the oncoming Mongols. The most recent document is dated in the year 1002. Many of these documents are now in the possession of the British Museum in London. In 1907, the Diamond Sutra was discovered by archaeologist Aurel Stein in the Mogao Grottoes. 1943, the Dunhuang Academy was founded to protect the caves and to systematically preserve. Since 1961, the caves stand together with the Western Thousand Buddha Caves (西 千佛洞, Xi Qian Fo dong ) on the list of monuments of the People's Republic of China ( 1-35). Since 1987, include the Mogao Caves World Heritage Site.