We arrived in Xi’an at dusk, after an afternoon flight from Beijing.
The two Chinese characters “西安” in the name Xi’an literally mean “Western Peace”. (And neither character is on the flag above!)
Xi’an became a cultural and political centre of China in the 11th century BCE with the founding of the Zhou Dynasty. The capital of Zhou was located southwest of contemporary Xi’an. Following the Warring States period, China was unified under the Qin Dynasty (221-206 BCE) for the first time, with the capital located at Xianyang, just northwest of modern Xi’an. The first emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang ordered the construction of the Terracotta Army and his mausoleum just to the east of Xi’an almost immediately after his ascension to the throne. It is the Terracotta Army that most tourists come to Xi’an to see.
But Xi’an has other attractions.
The city is surrounded by a well-preserved city wall which was re-constructed in the 14th century during the early Ming Dynasty and was based on the inner imperial palace of Tang Dynasty.
Inside the city wall and at the crossroads of its main axes are a Drum Tower and a Bell Tower. We saw them, briefly, at a distance, from the bus taking us to dinner and a Chinese Opera. This photo looks west from near the eastern gate, but you cannot see either of the towers.
There were other interesting architectual and historical sites which we did not get to see including the city’s Muslim quarter, which is home to the Great Mosque of Xi’an, the Giant Wild Goose Pagoda and the Small Wild Goose Pagoda, both spectacular towers well over 1,000 years old and which have survived great earthquakes. They protected Buddhist writings in the past.
Next post: Dinner at the opera!