Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Xi'an
Xi'an is situated in central China, between the Weihe river in the north and the Qinling Mountains in the south.
The city lies on a major rail route which runs from Lianyungang on the Yellow Sea via Ürümqi in the Autonomous Region of Xinjiang and on to Kazakhstan.
Xi'an is one of northwest China's chief textile centers, where cotton grown in the artificially irrigated paddy-fields in the neighboring countryside is treated and processed. Other major branches of industry are chemicals and engineering.
It probably possesses more items of archaeological interest than any other town or city in China, the most important, of course, being the world-famous Terracotta Warriors, which attracted 1,700,000 domestic and foreign visitors in 1992.Xi'an is one of China's six historic capital cities. From 1027 BC onwards eleven dynasties chose it as their seat of government. In fact, however, its history probably goes back 6000 years. In Banpo, a village 6km/4mi to the east, archaeologists have excavated a settlement once inhabited by over 500 people which dates back to the 4th C BCThe Emperor of the Western Zhou dynasty (1066-771 BC) elected to reside in Feng, near present-day Xi'an. The capital city during the Qin era in the 3rd C BC was Xianyang (also near where Xi'an lies today), with 500,000 to 600,000 inhabitants, or a third of the total population of China at that time. Under the Western Han (206-8 BC) the capital, sited northwest of where Xi'an now lies, was called Chang'an (Long-lasting Peace) and covered an area of 35sq.km/13.5sq.mi.Its defensive walls, 22km/14mi in length, formed an irregular quadrilateral with twelve gates, each with three entrances. The main gate was reserved for the use of the emperor. The north side of the wall is shaped rather like the Ursa Major constellation, and the south side like Ursa Minor.The town was served by eight main streets and 160 side streets, together with large numbers of palaces (none of which survive) and an excellent drainage and sewerage system using pentagonal clay pipes.On the excavation site, in addition to the remains of the town walls to the southwest, the visitor can still see a large mound of earth which is all that is left of the Han imperial residence, the Palace of Weiyang, around which countless legends have been woven. At one time the palace comprised more than 40 separate buildings, the main one being 183m/600ft long, 164ft wide and 12m/39ft high.Here was the beginning of the famous Silk Road, which wound its way through Central Asia and the Middle East as far as the Mediterranean and thus linked Xi'an with such cities as Istanbul, Rome and Venice. From then until the 14th C AD the Silk Road was an extremely important route along which spread the world's oldest cultures, those of China, Persia, Egypt, Turkey, Greece and Italy.Under the Sui dynasty (581-618) the town developed even further and its name was changed to Daxing (Great Prosperity). In the Tang era (618-907), named Chang'an once more, it enjoyed a further halcyon period; its area increased to 84sq.km/32sq.mi, making it the largest city in the world at that time.The town was divided into two parts. The inner embraced the northern district with the imperial palace and the southern with the seats of government and administration, while the outer part, lying to the east, west and south of the inner districts, was where the ordinary people lived. Its 25 main streets were lined with numerous markets, shops and workshops. Archaeological research indicates that the western section of the town wall was 2656m/7965ft long, the northern 1135m/1248yd and the eastern (divided into three sections) 2610m/7830ft.Chang'an was a busy trading center and the setting-out point for journeys to Central Asia, Russia, India, the Mediterranean and Africa as well as a place where all kinds of ethnic groups came together. Almost all the buildings of that period were destroyed in the countless wars which devastated the country during the Late Tang period, but two which survived were the Pagoda of the Great Wild Goose (Dayan Ta) and that of the Small Wild Goose (Xiaoyan Ta). When the Tang dynasty fell Chang'an became less important. At the beginning of the Ming dynasty (1368-1644) a number of changes were made to the town and it was finally given the name it still holds today, Xi'an (Westerly Peace). However, it was only one-sixth of the size that Chang'an had been during the Tang period. The town changed little in appearance until the 1950s, but since then, and especially since the 1980s, the town has been expanding into its surroundings. Only few buildings of the historic town center remain.