WHAT to see in XI'AN
Xi'an is probably best known for the Terracotta Warriors, but it has so much more to see. It was called Chang'an in ancient times. Xi'an enjoys equal fame with Athens, Cairo, and Rome as one of the four major ancient civilization capitals. Xi'an was the starting point of the Ancient Silk Road that extended from Asia to Europe and played an important role in cultural inter flow between the East and West in ancient times. As one of China's seven ancient national capitals, one of the birthplaces of Chinese culture, it served as the capital for 12 dynasties from 1,000 BC to 1,000 AD. Xi'an has a great number of precious relics and historical sites. More than 4,000 historical sites and tombs have been excavated and over 120,000 historical relics remain unearthed.
TERRACOTTA WARRIORS AND HORSES
The Terracotta Warriors and horses are often regarded as the Eighth World Wonder and was declared a UNESCO world cultural heritage site in 1987.
In the early spring of 1974, a number of peasants accidentally discovered some ancient bronze weapons and pieces of broken terra cotta armoured warriors while sinking a well. No one ever expected that this accidental discovery would prove to be one of the most significant modern archaeological discoveries of the 20th century, adding greater understanding to China's history and at the same time unfolding a unique and majestic spectacle for the world - the Terra-Cotta Warriors and Horses Museum, the underground army of terra cotta warriors.
Upon ascending the throne at the age of 13 (in 246 BC), Qin Shi Huang, later the first Emperor of all China, started building his mausoleum and took 11 years to finish. It is speculated that many buried treasures and sacrificial objects had accompanied the emperor in his after life. More than 6,000 life-like clay warriors and horses were unearthed. They were arrayed in an oblong battle formation of the Qin Dynasty, facing east. They look healthy and strong, having different facial expressions, showing Emperor Qingshihuang's strong determination of wiping out the other six states and unifying China. Thousands of real weapons were unearthed from these terra-cotta army pits. These weapons were exquisitely made. Some of them are still very sharp since their surface were treated with chromium. They are as bright as new, though buried underground for more than 2,000 years, an indication of how sophisticated the Qin Dynasty's metallurgical technology and weapon-manufacturing technique.
SHAANXI PROVINCIAL HISTORY MUSEUM
Perhaps the best place to learn about China’s long history is Shaanxi Provincial History Museum. Built in the style of a Tang Dynasty pavilion the museum’s exhibits are breathtaking. It consists of 113,000 artifacts unearthed in the province and chronologically arranged in three exhibition halls. If time permits, the Forest of Steles is also situated in the Shaanxi Provincial Museum, this collection of 2,300 stone tablets and epitaphs is the largest and oldest of its kind in China. One block North and East of the Forest of Steles museum, there is a Buddhist temple dates from 200BC called Wolong Temple.
ANCIENT CITY WALL
The first landmark visitors will encounter in Xi’an is its Ancient City Wall. First erected in the Ming Dynasty (14 century) - strongly fortified and strategically impregnable - Xi'an was originally a walled city. Even today the wall is considered a landmark dividing the city into the inner part and the outer part. The North Gate and South Gate are the two main entrances to the inner city. Of great significance is that the Ancient Wall has been preserved intact, which is rarely seen in the world. If the weather permits, you can rent a bike and ride on the best preserved ancient wall in China. To complete the entire loop by foot will take you over 3 hours.
BIG GOOSE PAGODA
The Big Goose Pagoda is one of the city's most distinctive and outstanding landmarks, possibly the most beautiful building left in Xi¡¦an today. In AD 652, the Big Goose Pagoda was built to collect and store the sutras and Buddhist scriptures, which were brought from India by a famous Buddhist translator and traveler Tang Sanzang. There is also the Little Wild Goose Pagoda built in Xian between AD 707 and 709.
THE GREAT MOSQUE
The Great Mosque in Xi’an is one of the oldest, largest and best-preserved Islamic mosques in China. According to historical records engraved on a stone tablet inside, this mosque was built in 742 during the Tang Dynasty (618-907). This was a result of Islam being introduced into Northwest China by Arab merchants and travellers from Persia and Afghanistan during the mid-7th century when some of them settled down in China and married women of Han Nationality. The Drum Tower is located in the exact centre of the city and Bell Tower located northwest within the Muslim Quarter.
TANG DYNASTY DINNER AND SHOW
Performed by the "Tang Dynasty Song & Dance Troupe", the Tang Dynasty Dinner Show, is a performance of Chang'an music and dances originated in the Tang Dynasty over a thousand years ago. It has been recreated in accordance with various historical records and ancient arts and relics discovered in Xi'an. Accompanied with dinner, you will enjoy a national art that reflects the glory and richness of the Tang Dynasty era. Not to be missed.
EAT AND DRINK
Xi’an is famous for its food and the Muslim Quarter is located close to the Drum tower. It is a vibrant, colourful area with many restaurants spilling out onto the street and mixing with the street sellers. Street food is mostly sold after sunset and presents a variety of local/regional dishes, ranging from noodle soups, dumplings, hot pot, and so on.This is one experience
not to be missed!
AND IF YOU HAVE MORE TIME...
Banpo Village Ruins
Banpo Village Ruins (residential and pottery-making areas) is an archaeological site located near Xian and contains the remains of a Neolithic village. They are considered to be part of the Banpo phase (5000 BC -4000BC) of the Yangshao culture. The archaeological excavated from 1954 to 1957 covers an area of an estimated 50,000 square metres.
This Buddhist temple, which records mention as far back as 67 AD, contains a 13-storied brick pagoda as part of the monastery. This pagoda fell down in the rain in August, 1981 and revealed a 1000 year old underground vault full with 2,400 treasures belonging to the Tang and previous dynasties given as offerings. These included gold and silver utensils, glazed wares, porcelains, pearls, precious stones and textiles, as well as religious items. The biggest treasure is a finger bone of Buddha offered to the Emperor of China during the Tang dynasty.
Built by the Tang emperor Xuanzong near hot springs at the foot of Li Shan in Lintong County so he could frolic with his favoured Imperial Lady Yang to his heart's content.