China Travel Blog Part 2-Xian
Xian Inspection Trip- Written by Adaptable Travel Educational Travel Consultant Ricky Behan
After an action packed few days in Beijing the next part of my Chinese adventure was Xian, the historical capital of China. Home to the Terracotta Warriors and once the fabled beginning and end of the Silk Road, Xian is a city stepped in history and has a story like no other. Formerly known as Changan, Xian was once a thriving city of emperors and a melting pot of cultures and religions that made it one of the epicentres of early Chinese civilisation. Capital to several major dynasties stretching all the way back to the Zhou in the 11th century BC, Xian is one of the most ancient capitals in the world and the remnants of this ancient world are everywhere to be seen.
On my first day in Xian this was clear to see as I visited the Old City Walls which were built in 1370 during the Ming dynasty to thwart invading armies. The views over the walls are fascinating as the walls stretch as far as the eye can see against the backdrop of a rapidly growing modern city. To get an idea of Xian’s former grandeur, the city walls originally enclosed 83 sq km, an area seven times larger than today’s city centre. With that in mind and after a quick photo with the iconic Bell and Drum Tower we made our way to the Muslim Quarter to visit the Great Mosque, one of China’s largest mosques. The Great Mosque is a fascinating blend of Chinese and Islamic architecture and is the focal point of the Muslim quarter in Xian with its cool fountain and pretty Ming Pavilion. Surrounded by atmospheric backstreets littered with food and souvenir markets the Muslim quarter is a great spot to sample a few local delicacies and pick up some souvenirs.
To conclude the day we took in Xian’s most famous landmark, the Big Wild Pagoda, which once stood tall as central China’s highest building for over 1,200 years. Built during the Tang dynasty, the Big Wild Pagoda is a holy place for Buddhists and is a classic example of a Tang style pagoda. Overlooking Xian and giving panoramic views of the city the Big Wild Pagoda is a spectacular ancient building and one not to be missed. However Xian’s premier attraction is the Terracotta Warriors which lay in wait for me the following day.
Considered one of the most significant archaeological excavations of the 20th Century, the Terracotta warriors epitomise the mysterious charm of Chinese culture that fascinates and intrigues people from all around the world. Standing guard over the soul of China’s first unifier for more than two millennia, the army of warriors lay undiscovered until 1974 when peasants drilling a well uncovered an underground vault. Within that vault lay the remains of thousands of terracotta soldiers with no two faces a like in battle formation with horses. Completely unique, the Terracotta Warriors offer a great insight into the world of ancient China and the level of detail gone into creating them is extraordinary.