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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.
Rent-a-bike on the city wall. Unfortunately, not part of our itinerary.
Xian is fortunate to have its city wall. Most like it in China have been destroyed.
It was getting very dark so the photo was grainy. For effect, I just added more grain to it.
Detail from a roof line. Seven mythical animals.
Light posts on top of the city wall. Out with the old, in with the new. October 1 is coming soon.
Turns out there are electric lights inside these lanterns, which came on just as we were leaving.
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.
Smog, at sunset, from Xi’an’s city wall.
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!