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Xian (Xi'an) Overview

Xian (Xi’an), also named Chang’an in ancient time, has a history of more than 3,100 years. Xian (Xi’an) is one of the most important cities in Chinese history - one of the six ancient capitals of China. It has been the capital city of 13 dynasties, including Western Zhou (1120 – 771 B.C.), Qin (221-206 B.C.), Western Han (206 B.C. – 24 A.D.), and Tang (618 – 907 A.D.) The historical significance of Xian (Xi’an) have made the area filled with abundant cultural heritage sites, which includes the museum of Army of Terracotta Warriors and Horses, Xian City Wall, Big Wild Goose Pagoda, Stele Forest of Xian, and Banpo Village.

Bounded by the Weise River in the north and the Qinling Mountain in the south, Xian is one of the ancient civilization birthplaces in the Yellow River Basin area in China. Today it is one of the largest and most developed cities in the central to northwestern part of China. Being the center of economy, culture, politics in ancient China, and sits at the beginning of the Silk Road, Xian had once attracted people from all over the world. And still it is today, with over 300 cultural relics protection units, over 4000 ancient ruins and tombs, more than 120 thousand cultural relics uncovered so far, Xian is a popular tourism place.


Xian Major Attractions

Terracotta Warriors

The museum of the Terracotta Warriors and Horses is one of China's most famous tourist attractions. It lies 1.5 km (0.93 mile) east to the Tomb of Qin First Emperor. The Army of Terracotta Warriors is the most significant archeological excavations of the 20th century. It consists of life-size figures of warriors, depicted in battle dress according to rank an unit, and numerous figures of horses and chariots. The museum has three sections and covers an area of 22,780 square meters (5.6 acres). There are more than 9000 statues of soldiers which are part of the tremendous mausoleum of China's first Emperor has been discovered after two thousand years of their underground existence. Click here for more information about China Travel - Terracotta Warriors, Xian.


Xian City Wall

Located in the central area of Xian city, Xian City Wall is one of the oldest, largest, and best-preserved ancient military defense systems in China and in the world. The military defense system once included the city wall, city moat, drawbridges, watchtowers, corner towers, parapet walls, and gate towers. Though many sections have since been destroyed and the city walls are incomplete today, standing in front of the wall, tourists could still be able to see into the far distance of the history and sense the prosperity and grandeurs of the ancient city.

The history of Xian City Wall dated back to 194 BC. It took about four years to finish the construction of the wall for the ancient capital city Chang’an. The first city wall of Chang’an was 25.7 kilometers long, 12-16 meters thick at the base in 190BC. The city was extended during Tang Dynasty (618 – 906). The total area within the wall was 84 square km during Tang Dynasty.

The end of Tang Dynasty brought destruction to city Chang’an. It was until Ming Dynasty (1368 – 1644) that existing wall today was built on top of the old Tang Dynasty structure to protect a much smaller city of 12 square km. The wall is 12 meters tall, 12-14 meters wide on the top, 15-18 meters thick at the base, and 13.7 kilometers long. There are several important components integrated together to form a complex and well-organized ancient military defense system, such as the wall, ramparts, city moat, drawbridges, watchtowers, gate towers, watch towers, etc.


Big Wild Goose Pagoda (Dayanta)

Situated in the Da Ci'en Temple, and are about 4 kilometers (2.49 miles) south of downtown of the Xian City, the Big Goose Pagoda is a well-preserved ancient building and a holy place for Buddhists. It was built in 652 AD during Tang Dynasty to store the sutras and the figurines of Buddha, which were brought from India by a famous Buddhist translator and traveler Tang Sanzang, also know as Xuanzang. The Big Goose Pagoda is a sturdy brick tower with a base of 25 by 25 meters (6,727 square feet) and a height of 64 meters (210 miles). The architectural style is simple but grandeur.

Along with the famous Big Wild Goose Pagoda, Da Ci'en Temple is part of the attraction. It is the home of the Big Goose Pagoda. Da Ci'en Temple was initially built in 589 during the Sui Dynasty (581-618), later was rebuilt in 647 during Tang Dynasty to commemorate the dead virtuous queen, Empress Wende. The Temple covered an area of 32,314 square meters (8 acres). There is a small bell tower on the east side and a drum tower on the west side of the main path heading to the Big Wild Goose Pagoda. The North Square of Big Wild Goose Pagoda is another attraction of the landmark. It covers about 110,000 square meters (27 acres) plus 20,000 square meters (5 acres) of water area. Surrounding the Big Wild Goose Pagoda, the area consists of waterscape fountains, a cultural square, gardens, and tourist paths. It has become part of the scenery area of the Big Wild Goose Pagoda landmark.


Stone Forest of Steles

Xian Stone Forest of Steles is an art treasure house containing the largest and richest collection of Steles dating back to ancient times. It houses over 3,000 pieces of stone steles coming from Han Dynasty to Qing Dynasty. They recorded the great achievements of Chinese culture and art in history.

The Stone Forest of Steles is located in the Confucian Temple on SanXue Street in downtown Xian. It is a professional art museum today that displays these splendid Chinese art treasuries. It is a good place to visit if you want to know something more about Chinese art, culture, and history.


Banpo Village Site

Banpo Village Site is a matriarchal clan-based community remains that existed some 6000 years ago during the Neolithic era of human history. Located between the Chan River and Ba River, Banpo Village Site was discovered in 1953 in the east of Xian. The village covered an area of about 50, 000 square meters. The unearthed site contained the ruins of 45 houses, 200-odd storage pits, 250 graves, and more than 10,000 stone tools and everyday articles that belong to the matriarchal community of the Yangshao culture.

The Banpo community existed during the final phase of the Stone Age. One could see the use of gradually improved stone tools, and the beginning of agriculture. Stone Age communities such as Banpo have presented a major turning point in human history - the hunting-and-gathering lifestyles have been replaced by the earliest human settlements that were intended to be permanent. Banpo Village Site has showed a significant accomplishment in human history.


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