Xi’an, Shaanxi Province
Xi’an - About the City and its Sights
The city of Xi’an, the administrative centre of the province, is one of four ancient capitals of our planet. In the history of China Xi’an was the capital of 13 ruling dynasties. It is, perhaps, the most special Chinese city. Local residents call it the cradle of a civilization. It is where the history of China and the Silk Road start from.
The period of its highest development coincided with Sui and Tang dynasties rule (582 - 904) when the city was the biggest in the world. At that time it was called Chang’an (literally Perpetual Peace).
Chinese archeologists assume that the city of Xi’an was founded in the 2nd century BC. The first emperor of the united China, Qin Shi Huang made it the capital of the new state. The Silk Road started from there. Caravans loaded mostly with fine Chinese silk, porcelain or teas, moved to Europe through Samarkand and Bukhara. The city became the world’s trade centre, and a great number of merchants, travelers from various countries of the world settled there.
For over thousand years Xi’an remained capital of Celestial Empire. The real blossoming of Xi’an occurred under Tang dynasty in the 4th – 9th centuries AD. Tang emperors gave the city its refined shine which caused envy of many powerful monarchs of Europe and Asia. After the fall of Tang dynasty Xi’an gradually fell into decay, the capital’s luster was lost forever.
Beginning from the 15th century Xi’an ceased to play its important capital role in China.
The city had accurate geometrical layout. The streets ran perpendicular to each other. The city was divided into 108 blocks; there lived townspeople of identical income or occupation. The entire city was surrounded by earth embankment with 17 gates. Near the East and West gates there were markets, and in the North there stood the palace separated from living quarters by a special wall.
With Tang Empire decline in 907 the glory of Chang’an was gone too. In the 11th century Beijing became the new capital of China. Chang’an was renamed Xi’an and played the role of an isolated provincial town. Only in the 20th century the city started to change gradually turning into the country’s industrial centre. For tourists Xi’an will remain the most unique of all Chinese cities — an open-air museum.
There are two pagodas – the Big Wild Goose Pagoda and the Small Wild Goose Pagoda in Xi’an.
Big Wild Goose Pagoda – Dayan Ta – was erected in Xi’an in the 7th century by the order Gaozu, the third emperor of Tang dynasty, for the purpose of Buddhist relics and manuscripts storage. The pagoda towers in the South part of Xi’an behind the city walls. The pagoda’s history is closely connected with the name of monk Xuanzang who brought the precious Buddhist rolls from India and translated them there in the pagoda.
Museum of Shaanxi Province, Xi’an
This museum is known for its huge and interesting exposition dedicated mainly to the history of the Silk Road. It is remarkable that on the territory occupied by the present museum stood the Temple of Confucius, which in the early 20th century was made into museum.
Shaanxi Historical Museum, Xi’an
Opened in 1992 the Historical Museum is one of the main landmarks of Xi’an. The museum is famous not only for its unique and rich exposition but also modern equipment and facilities. In its huge light halls over 300 exhibits from Neolith to Qing dynasty epoch are displayed. Frescos, ceramics, utensils, Buddhist statues and sculptures are only insignificant part of what is stored in the museum. There are also four terracotta soldiers from the army of Emperor Qin Shi Huang.
The Mausoleum of Emperor Qin Shi Huang, Xi’an
The mausoleum of the ancestor of Chinese nation is the greatest heritage of China. It stands in the district of Huangling, Shaanxi province. For over 2,000 years that place is considered sacred for each Chinese.
Terracotta Army, Xi’an
In 1974 while digging a well local peasants discovered out one of the famous archeological finds of the 20th century, the Terracotta Army of Qin Shi Huang, thousand full-size soldiers made from the burnt clay with horses standing in battle order and protecting the peace of Emperor Qin Shi Huang. The find became the sensation and was named the Eighth Wonder.
Huaqing Chi Hot Springs, Xi’an
These unique sources are 30 km to the east from Xi’an under Mount Lishan. They were discovered about 3,000 years ago and were the favorite vacation spot of Chinese emperors. The uniqueness of the springs is not only in their temperature which fluctuates between 43С and 109С. The water contains great number of minerals which are effective in treatment of diseases and do you a lot of good when you simply swim there.
Neolitihic Site Banpo Bowuguan, Xi’an
Near the city of Xi’an there is a unique open-air museum. It is the ancient village of the beginning of the third millennium BC. This unique 45 sq. m site was found in the 1950s and was named Banpo Bowuguan. Archeologists discovered the remains of 43 structures of rectangular, square and round shapes. All huts’ entrances looked to the south. Their internal walls of those semi-dugouts were planked; the houses were interconnected be means of trenches; the entire site was protected by a moat and a dirt wall. Banpo Bowuguan is considered the most ancient settlement in China. People lived there from 4500 BC to 3750 BC. For the purpose of transformation of this unique find into a museum, the big covered hall was built above the village, and placed neolith pottery and other artifacts in adjoining structures.
Jung Liu Belfry, Xi’an
In the centre of Xi’an, in its old part, at the crossing of four main city avenues - Northern, Southern, Eastern and Western a huge belfry towers. The bell used to announce the opening of the city gate. Its first tolls woke up the city: gates, shops and markets opened. The belfry is dated 1384. Later, in 1739, it was reconstructed. Not a single nail was used during the erection of the unique tower. You can enjoy the great view from the tower.
City Wall, Xi’an
One of the city’s landmarks is the wall – the Wall of Ming dynasty epoch. The 14-km wall is dated the 14th century and was constructed on the foundation of much earlier origin (Tang dynasty period).Recently restored and standing 12 m tall, it is an impressive monument of the former greatness of the city. In the wall there are several big fortified gates: Northern, Southern, Eastern and Western gates with main towers and fire towers on their tops. The perimeter is protected by a moat. If you climb the wall you will see the picturesque panorama of the old city with the view of the belfry and Drum tower.
Tower of Drum (Gulou), Xi’an
Near the belfry across from the big city square there stands the Tower of Drum (Gulou). As you probably understand, the drum’s functions were also precisely defined. Its roll warned the townspeople that the day came to an end and it was time to stop their businesses. At the same time the gate was closed. By the way, the tower serves as a pointer to the Muslim quarter of the Old city. Next to the tower you will find the Big city mosque.
The Big City Mosque of Xi’an
The city mosque of Xi’an is one of the 4 largest mosques in China. Constructed in the 18th century it was created in Chinese architectural style and surrounded with gardens and parks. You can enter the yard of the mosque but in order to visit the hall you must be a Moslem. The mosque is one of testimonies that the Silk Road went through the city of Xi’an.