Xi’an

Xi’an, the capital of Shaanxi Province, is located in the heart of the Guanzhong Basin, with the Weihe River running along the northern border of the city. It is the largest metropolis in northwestern China. Known as Chang’an in ancient China, Xi’an is a world-renowned ancient capital.

For 1,062 years beginning in the 11th century B.C., Xi’an was the capital of 13 dynasties including the Western Zhou, Qin, Western Han, Eastern Han, Sui, and Tang. The continuous dynastic occupation kept the city beautiful and magnificent. More than 270 palaces and temples were built during its heyday, such as the “Three Han Palaces” in the Han dynasty, namely Changle, Weiyang, Jianzhang Palaces, and numerous other palaces and watch towers. The most well-known among these is the Tomb of Emperor Qin Shihuang, with the Terra-cotta Warriors and Horses. Xi’an is also the starting point of the ancient Silk Road.

The Terra-cotta Warriors and Horses

The Terra-cotta Warriors and Horses listed as the Eighth Wonder of the World and consisting of more than 7,000 life-sized terra-cotta warriors and horses, were unearthed near the Tomb of Emperor Qin Shihuang. The tomb is a rammed-soil mound reaching approximately 154 feet into the air. In 1974, three large pits of terra-cotta figures were found about one mile east of the mausoleum. The excavation revealed more than 7,000 pieces of pottery figurines, bronze chariots and horses and weapons. Three burial pits were found. The No. 1 pit contains a rectangular formation of chariots and army troops; the No. 2 pit holds a winding formation of chariots, army troops and cavalries; and the No. 3 pit was designed to symbolize a command headquarters. The Museum of Emperor Qin Shihuang’s Tomb Figures of Soldiers and Horses is one of the 10 most famous places in China, and was announced as a world cultural heritage site by UNESCO.

Huaqing Pool

The Huaqing Pool is situated at the foot of Lishan Mountain in the south and borders on the Wei River in the north, almost 21 miles east of Xi’an City. Being a villa palace and resort for many emperors and kings in ancient time, it embodies more than 3,000 years of history. Emperor Qin Shihuang built a stone pool named the “Fairy’s Spring.” Both the Han Emperor Wudi and Sui Emperor Wendi enlarged it. During the Tang Dynasty, the Emperor Xuanzong ordered large-scale construction to transform the spring wells into pools housed in the walled palaces. These were called the “Huaqing Palace Pool” and “Spring Pool.” The Tang Emperor Xuanzong and his concubine Lady Yang often came here for pleasure.

The Greater Wild Goose Pagoda

The Greater Wild Goose Pagoda was built in 652, the 3rd year of Yonghui of the Tang Emperor Gaozong, and is located in the Daci’en Temple complex in the southern suburb of Xi’an. A square pyramid of blue brick, it is 210 feet high with seven stories. The four stone doors in the base of the pagoda are exquisite engravings from the Tang Dynasty period.

Banpo Village Ruins

The ruins, 6,000 years old, are from a matriarchal commune of the Yellow River region.

The Stele Forest

The Stele Forest lies inside the southern city wall of Xi’an, where there are the largest numbers of steles from different dynasties. The construction of the Stele Forest began in 1087. It was maintained and expanded constantly during the dynasties of Jin, Yuan, Ming, Qing and the Minguo period, so the stored stones were increasing day after day. It stores almost 3000 epitaphs and steles from the Han Dynasty until now and 1,089 of them have been exhibited. People admire the steles due to their uncanny resemblance to a forest and for their gathering together all kinds of styles of characters. It is a treasure house of Chinese calligraphy with a huge collection of steles inscribed by outstanding calligraphers from different dynasties.

The Mosque

The Mosque is located in Huajue Lane beside the Drum Tower; it is the best-known Islamic Mosque in Xi’an City. It was built in 742, the first year of Tian Bao of the Tang Emperor Xuanzong, and was restored in each of the Yuan, Ming and Qing Dynasties. The distribution of pavilions, halls, towers and platforms in the mosque is compact and exquisite, blending the traditional architectural styles of Islam and Han. It is one of the four largest mosques in China.

Qianling Mausoleum

Qianling Tomb, located 52 miles northwest of Xi’an, was the tomb of Li Zhi (628-683) Emperor Gaozong of the Tang Dynasty, and his empress, who became the only woman emperor, Wu Zetian (624-705), in Chinese history after the death of her husband. It was built in 684 and completed over a period of 23 years. The huge stone statues arrayed in front of the tomb are well preserved. They demonstrate the remarkable achievements of sculptural arts during the prime of the Tang Dynasty. With smooth lines and gorgeous colors, they gracefully exhibit many ancient paintings.

Other Attractions

The Tomb of Emperor Qin Shihuang, Xi’an City Wall, Famen Temple, Shaanxi History Museum, the pit of the bronze chariots of the Western Zhou Dynasty, Mt. Huashan, the Lesser Wild Goose Pagoda, Maoling Mausoleum, Mausoleum of the Yellow Emperor and Zhaoling Mausoleum