Xi'an Sightseeing

An old saying in China tells the unique position of this legendary city: "If you want to see China of 100 years ago, visit Shanghai; China of 500 years ago, Beijing; China of 2000 years ago, Xi'an". As the cradle of Chinese culture, the city was capital to the first dynasty of China, and also many of its successors. The position as the cultural and political center of the country has left the city with a great heritage, whose physical and spiritual evidence still dominates the ancient city. Only historical landmarks are highlighted in Xi'an due to its ancient importance.

  • Mausoleum and Terra-Cotta Warriors
  • Big Wild Goose Pagoda
  • Small Goose Pagoda
  • Temple of the Great Maternal Grace
  • Huaqing Hot Springs & Huaqing Palace
  • The Bell Tower-Morning Signal
  • The Drum Tower- Evening Signal
  • The Ancient City Wall
  • The Shaanxi History Museum
  • Xi'an Beilin Museum-Stele Forest
  • Banpo
  • Mount Hua
  • Mausoleum and Terra-Cotta Warriors (Bingmayong)

    The Terra Cotta Warriors and Horses are the most significant archeological excavations of the 20th century. The Mausoleum of Qin Shi Huang and his Terracotta Army are located 40 kilometers to the east of the city's suburbs.

    For 2000 years, a secret army of clay soldiers protected the hidden tomb of China's first emperor, Qin Shi Huang. Until 1974 none knew of its existence; now Chinese archaeologists are gradually unfolding the mystery. Qin Shi Huang was buried in his mausoleum, with the famous Terracotta Army, near modern day Xi'an, Shaanxi Province.To guard him in his afterlife the emperor ordered an army of over 8000 life size clay soldiers to be made. When he died, the burial place was as magnificent and bizarre as the treasure laden tombs of the Egyptian pharaohs.

    The site measures some three miles across and took 700,000 conscripts to construct it. Many wonders of the tomb were described by a Chinese historian, Sima Qian, writing less than a century after the emperor's death. He wrote of rare jewels, a map of the heavens with stars represented by pearls, and, on the floor of the tomb, a panorama map of China with the rivers and seas represented by flowing mercury. The mound itself was said to have been coated with molten copper to protect it, with crossbows lined up to shoot anyone who tried to break in.

    Learn Chinese Language in China No two terracotta soldiers are identical. The sculptures represent a standard of art that experts previously believed was far beyond the craftsmen of the Qin Dynasty. Each man was built with solid legs and a hollow torso. The soldiers were originally armed with bronze spears and bows and arrows. But soon after the burial there was a revolution in China and the rebels broke into the vaults to steal the weapons.

    All the standing warriors were attached to clay plinths that rested on the tiled floor, which still resembles a modern pavement. The soldiers were arranged in battle formation, with 600 clay horses and 100 life-sized working wooden chariots.

    The main tomb containing the emperor has yet to be opened and there is still hope that it remains intact. It is said that molten copper was used to seal it. A magnetic scan of the site has revealed that a large number of coins are lying in the unopened tomb, occasioning speculation that the royal treasury was interred with the emperor. Scans of the earth atop the tomb have revealed unusually high concentrations of mercury in the shape of China's waters, adding further to the credibility of Sima Qian's description.

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    In 221 BC, Emperor Qin Shi Huang of the Qin dynasty was in search of immortality, and ordered the construction of a vast army of 8,000 life-sized Terra Cotta warriors to be buried with him in order to protect his empire after his early death. In 1974, when some peasants were digging a well, they made the discovery of the Terra-Cotta Warriors and Horse.

    This oblong shaped pit is 689 feet long, 197 feet wide. The trenches that contain the soldiers are 14.8 to 21.3 feet deep. The actual bodies of the soldiers were formed out of terra cotta clay. Each soldier was baked in a kiln. The positioning of the soldiers in the oblong shape shows an actual battle formation of the troops. These warriors were dressed and ready for battle. They carried spears and various other combat weapons. Each warrior wore an army uniform painted either red or green and either brown or black armor, which distinguishes the soldier's rank.

    There are four main categories of figures: chariot warriors, infantrymen, cavalrymen, and horses. There are generals, middle ranking officers, lower ranking officers, ordinary soldiers, and armored warriors. The latter can be further divided according to their headgear into warriors with a square scarf, a cylindrical bun, or a flat bun. There are kneeling warriors as well. The height of the normal soldiers ranges from 5 ft. 8 in. to 6 ft. 2.5 in. Those that rode the chariots were 6 ft. 2.5 in. The commanders were the tallest out of all the soldiers. They stood 6 ft. 5 in. Clearly height represented the importance of the officer.

    The second excavation occurred in May of 1976. This pit contains 1,400 warriors with horses. It is 64,000 square feet in area. Pit number two differs greatly from the first pit. The battle formation was square. This pit contains sixty-four chariots. It has divided groups which include infantrymen, cavalrymen and even commanders to guide the troops. This display of soldiers gives insight into the work that went into the Chinese army. Long distance battles had to be fought by using many chariots. The facial expressions of the men in this pit are also very different from those men in the first pit.

    The third pit was then discovered in 1980. This pit is the smallest out of the three discovered. It contains only one chariot, six warriors, and a small amount of weapons. This room is thought to be a group of special commanders. A fourth pit was also discovered, however it came out to be bare. This room is probably empty because the workers did not complete the warriors in time for Qin's death.

    Mausoleum and Terra-Cotta Warriors
    Tel: (8629) 8391-1961
    Opening hours: 8:00 am ¨C 5:00 pm

    Big Wild Goose Pagoda (Dayan Ta)

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    The Big Wild Goose Pagoda, one of the main constructions in the famous Buddhist temple-Da-Ci-En Temple is situated at south of the Xi'an city. The pagoda is one of the most distinctive and outstanding landmarks for Xi'an. It is sturdy and angular, square in plan, and more than 60m tall. It has been restored and added to many times, though the current design is not far from the original.

    On the first floor is an exhibition of different pagoda styles, and, at either side of the south entrance, stone tablets hold calligraphy by two Tang emperors, surrounded by dragon and flying angels. Over the lintel of the west door is a fine Tang carving of Buddha and his disciples sitting in a Chinese building. The pagoda has seven stories, each with large windows out of which visitors throw money for luck. The view from the north window is the most impressive for the rigorous geometry of the streets below, though it is hard to believe that when built the temple was at least 3km inside the Tang city.

    Small Goose Pagoda

    Study Chinese Language in China The Small Goose Pagoda is located on the grounds of the Felicity Temple, and this structure gets its name because it is smaller than the Big Wild Goose Pagoda, although it has more stories, higher, and more important in the architectural history.

    It was completed in 709 AD, when Buddhism was firmly established in China. The influence of Buddhism was so strong that Daoism, based on the teaching of Lao Zi, gradually adopted many of the Buddhist rituals in order to maintain popularity among the people. Two of the pagoda's original fifteen stories were damaged in an earthquake, leaving a rather abrupt jagged top to the roof, to which you can ascend for a view of the city. The shop at the back of the complex sells Shaanxi folk arts.

    Temple of the Great Maternal Grace (Dacien Si)

    This is the largest temple in Xi'an, though when it was established in 647 AD it was much larger, with nearly two thousand rooms, and a resident population of more than three thousand monks. The original was destroyed in 907 AD, and the present buildings are Qing. Other rooms hold shops ad exhibitions of paintings.

    All around the temple you will see rubbings from a Qing stele in the Xingjiao Si of images of Tang dynasty monk Xuan Zang, the temple's most famous resident, who spent fifteen years collecting Sanskrit sutras in India before translating them here in 1335 volumes.

    Huaqing Hot Springs & Huaqing Palace

    Study Chinese Language in China Huanqing Hot Springs are situated at the foot of Li Mountain, 30 kilometers from Xi'an.
    The water in the hot springs rises to a temperature of 43C (109F). It contains lime, sodium carbonate, sodium sulphate and other minerals, which makes it suitable for bathing and the treatment of quite a few diseases.

    For centuries emperors came to the hot springs to bathe and enjoy the scenic beauty, and it has been a favorite spa since the Tang Dynasty. The Tang Emperor Xuanzong often spent the winter here in the company of his favorite concubine, Yang Guifei. Shortly afterwards, however, all the buildings were destroyed by war. The new baths constructed in 1956 include one called the Bath of Yang Guifei (Guifei - Honorable Concubine).

    The Bell Tower ¨C Morning Signal

    Learn to Speak Mandarin Chinese Bell Tower is the most well-preserved and best-known tower among many ancient cities of China. The Bell Tower was originally built in the Ying Xi'an Temple in 1384, at the intersection of West Street and Guangji Street. Then in 1582, it was moved to its present pivotal position, in the very heart of the city at the junction of four main streets extending to the east, south, west and north, for rebuilding and later restorations.

    The Drum Tower ¨C Evening Signal

    To the northwest of the Bell Tower is the Drum Tower, another symbol of ancient Xi'an, which stands on the diagonal of the Bell Tower and Drum Tower Square. Four years older than the Bell Tower, the Drum Tower was also built during the Ming Dynasty. A huge drum was housed in the tower and struck every evening.

    China Business Program Covering an area of 1924 square meters (0.48 acres) and with a height of 33 meters (108.3 feet), the Drum Tower is also a two-storey building with three layers of eaves. The base of the tower is 52.6 meters (172.6 feet) long, 38 meters wide (124.7 feet) and 7.7 meters (25.3 feet) high. Under the brick-made base a busy road extends. Visitors can also climb the tower to appreciate the beautiful landscape of Xi'an. The Drum Tower is smaller than the Bell Tower. However, it is just southeast of the Great Mosque and marks the entrance to the Moslem quarter of Xi'an.

    The Ancient City Wall

    Learn Mandarin in China Xi'an is surrounded by a well-preserved City wall which was re-constructed in the Ming Dynasty and based in inner imperial palace of Tang Dynasty. The area in which Xi'an sits is a relatively flat place, making travel on the wall relatively easy unlike the steep inclines of the Great Wall. It is also plenty wide enough to rent a bicycle and cruise along the wall without colliding with others.

    First construction of the first city wall of Chang'an began in 194 BC and lasted for four years. Rebuilding of the wall began 650 years ago in the Ming Dynasty in 1370, where the new Wall was added onto the Tang Dynasty walls. Being the most prominent of walls built after medieval time, it is also the best-kept and biggest city walls in China. It stands approximately 12 meters high, about 12 to 14 meters across the top, 15 to 18 meters thick at bottom and 13.7 kilometers in length. From the top, you can easily see the ancient and the modern, side by side. It is the best preserved, oldest and largest ancient city defense system in China. It is also one of the most important landmarks in Xi'an city.

    Sun Yat-Sen Former Residence

    Learn Mandarin in ChinaSun Yat-sen (1866-1925), the great forerunner of the Chinese democratic revolution, founder of the Republic of China, and respected contributor to Chinese modern history lived here with his wife, Soong Ching-ling, from June 1918 to November 1924. It was here that Dr. Sun accomplished his renowned masterpieces such as "Doctrines of Sun Wen" and "Plans of China's Development". It was also here that he received the representatives of the Communist Party of China and promoted the first cooperation between the two major parties in Chinese modern history - the Nationalist Party and the Communist Party.

    After his death in 1925, Mrs. Soong continued to live here until 1937 when the Japanese army occupied Shanghai. Eight years later, upon China winning the war, Mrs. Soong offered to provide her home as the permanent site to Dr. Sun's memory. In 1961, the Former Residence of Sun Yat-sen was listed as being one of the key state preserved by the Cultural Relic Unit.

    Today, the former residence of Sun Yat Sen became a tourist destination. Visitors can enter through the kitchen on the way to the dining room. Sun's study is upstairs, complete with ink stone, brushes, maps drawn by Dr. Sun, and a library of 2,700 volumes. The bedroom and the drawing room contain more original furnishings, including an original "Zhongshan" suit, similar to the later Mao suit. The backyard has a charming garden.

    Address: 7 Xiangshan Lu, west of Fuxing Park at Sinan Lu, Luwan, Shanghai
    Tel.: (8621) 6437-2954 and (8621) 6385-0217

    The Shaanxi History Museum

    Study Abroad in China The Shaanxi History Museum in Xi'an has a large collection of artifacts both modern and ancient.

    The modern museum was built between 1983 and 2001 and its appearance recalls the architectural style of the Tang dynasty. It houses over 300,000 items including murals, paintings, pottery, coins; bronze, gold, and silver objects.

    Xi'an Beilin Museum ¨C Stele Forest

    SteleForest is a museum for steles and stone sculptures which is located in Xi'an, China. Its name comes from its huge collection of steles, reminiscent of a forest. The Stele Forest is famous for its numerous historic inscriptions and stoneworks.

    The Stele Forest began with the Kaicheng Shi Jing Steles and Shitai Xiao Jing Steles, two groups of steles both carved in the Tang dynasty and displayed in the temple to Confucius in Chang'an. In 904 AD, a rebel army sacked Chang'an, and the two stele were evacuated to the inner city. In 962 AD, they were again moved to the rebuilt temple to Confucius. In the Song Dynasty (1087), a special hall, with attached facilities, was built to house and display the two Stele groups. It was damaged during the Ming dynasty, in the 1556 Shaanxi earthquake.

    Stele collects nearly 3000 steles and it is the biggest museum for steles in China. Most of its collections are steles of the Tang Dynasty. Ink rubbings of the steles are available for sale. Among the unusual examples is an 18th-century stele depicting a Yangtze River flood control project. Another appears to be a bamboo forest, but on examination the leaves and branches form a poem.
    • Cao Quan Stele (Han Dynasty)
    • Sima Fang Stele (Jin Dynasty)
    • Kaicheng Shi Jing Stele (Tang Dynasty)
    • Nestorian Stele (Tang Dynasty)

    China Business ProgramBanpo is an archaeological site located near Xi'an, China and contains the remains of a Neolithic village. Banpo is the type-site associated with Yangshao Culture. Archaeological sites with similarities to the first phase at Banpo are considered to be part of the Banpo phase (5000 BC to 4000 BC) of the Yangshao culture. Banpo was excavated from 1954 to 1957 and covers an area of around 50,000 square meters.

    The settlement was surrounded by a moat, with the graves and pottery kilns located outside of the moat perimeter. Many of the houses were semi-subterranean with the floor typically a meter below the ground surface. The houses were supported by timber poles and had steeply pitched thatched roofs.

    According to the Marxist paradigm of archaeology that was prevalent in the People's Republic of China during the time of the excavation of the site, Banpo was considered to be a matriarchal society; however, new research contradicts this claim, and the Marxist paradigm is gradually being phased out in modern Chinese archaeological research. The site is now home to the Xi'an Banpo Museum.

    Mount Hua

    China Business ProgramMount Hua is one of the most visited and steepest mountains in the country. Mount Hua is located in the Shaanxi Province, about 100 kilometers east of the city of Xi'an, near the city Huayin. Hua was historically the location of several influential Taoist temples, and was known as a centre for the practise of traditional Chinese martial arts. In the latter part of 2006, the mountain was featured in video advertisements for Snapple green tea.

    Thousands of steps have been cut into the rock in order to facilitate ascending and descending.

    Many pilgrims tie red strips or lock locks to various locations near the summits for some sort of religious purpose.

    NOTE: Although this information is correct at the time of our web publication, it is still advised that you call the phone number and confirm the address before going to the venue because some venues may have changed their telephone numbers or address locations.