Located between the Qin Mountains and the Yellow River, the path to Tongguan is very narrow and its terrain was difficult to pass. After the Eastern Han Dynasty, Tongguan gradually replaced Hangu Pass in significance and became the eastern portal of Guanzhong. Beginning from the Battle of Tongguan until the Sui and Tang Dynasty, Tongguan was always an important strategic base. It was especially apparent during the Tang Dynasty, as the safety of the national capital Chang'an was directly connected with the defense of Tongguan. The loss of Tongguan usually led directly to the fall of Chang'an as it happened during the An Shi Rebellion.
In the 19th and early 20th century, it was commonly known as Tungkwan.