Attractions of Xi'an

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1. Greater Wild goose Pagoda (Dayanta)
Located within the compound of the Monastery of Grace (Ci'ensi) in the city's southern suburbs, this pagoda was built in A.D. 652 to house Buddhist scriptures that had been brought from India by Xuan Zang, an eminent monk of the Tang Dynasty. The wood-and  brick structure is sixty-four meters high and has seven stories.

2. Lesser Wild Goose Pagoda (Xiaoyanta)
This pagoda is within the compound of Fortune Offering Temple (Jianfusi), one kilometer south of the city. Built in A.D. 684, the square pagoda is an elegant brick structure with closely arrange eaves; it is forty-three meters high and has thirteen stories.

3. Forest of Stele (Beilin)
Located on Sanxue Street in the city, this treasure trove of ancient Chinese calligraphy and art is part of the Shaanxi Provincial Museum. It was built in A.D.1096 and has more than a thousand stellar on display in various halls and galleries.

4. Bell Tower (Zhonglou)
The huge bell in this tower used to toll the hour in ancient times. Initially built in A.D. 1384, the two-story structure is thirty-six meters high and has three layers of eaves in typical Ming style. The tower commands a fine view of the city.

5 .Drum Tower
The Drum Tower, across the Bell Tower and Drum Tower Square, to the northwest of the Bell Tower is a similar structure to the Bell Tower. It was erected in 1380, also during the Ming Dynasty. The Drum Tower got its name from the huge drum hung within it. While bell was stricken at dawn, drum was beat at sunset to indicate the end of the day. 
The outside of the Drum Tower on its first floor, hangs many large drums. Each was decorated with some beautiful Chinese writing, which symbolizes good fortune. The impressive arrays of drums are only on show and visitors are not allowed to beat any of them. But there is a extra charge drum near the front entrance where you can have a try or pose for a picture for a small fee.

Inside the Drum Tower now is a drum museum, where a variety of drums are on display, some of which can be dated back a thousands years. A kind of drum show is performed here everyday. The top of the tower commands a panoramic view of the city.

6. Xi'an City Wall
This battlement, built in A.D. 1370-1378, is one of the best-preserved ancient walls in China. Surrounded by a moat, it has a circumference of 11.9 kilometers and is 12 meters high, 18 meters wide at the base, and 15 meters wide at the top. The interior of the wall was made of rammed earth, and the exterior of bricks.

7. Qin Shi Huang's Buried Legion
While digging a well in 1974, farmers from Yanzhai Commune unearthed some brown pottery fragments, which led to the discovery of one of the most spectacular archaeological finds of the century - the buried terra cotta army of the first emperor of the Qin Dynasty. The vaults containing the sculptured legion are located at the eastern flank of his tomb in Lintong County northeast of Xi'an. So far, three underground vaults have been discovered. Vault One, the biggest of the three measures 5 meters high, 230 meters long from east to west, and 62 meters wide from north to south, covering an area of more than 14, 000 square meters. Thousands of life-sized terra cotta warriors lined up in battle array with horse-drawn chariots have been excavated. The warriors are of a fairly uniform height of 1.8 meters. With their individual features and facial expressions, they are amazingly lifelike. Visitors have called this awesome sight the "eight wonder of the world."

In addition to the terra cotta figures, many finely executed bronze horses and chariots have been unearthed on the western flank of the Qin tomb. Half life-size, these figures are highly detailed and realistic.

8. Maoling Museum
Maoling was the magnificent tomb of Han Emperor Wu Di (156-87 B.C.) in Xingping County west of Xi'an. The south gate has been destroyed, but the front gate is dimly visible. The tomb of the famous general Huo Qubing (147-117 B.C.) is also found at Maoling. The valiant general had repulsed many incursions by the Xiongnus and became an illustrious war hero during the Han Dynasty. Emperor Wu Di was so grieved over Huo's death that he ordered a tomb built for the general near his own. Maoling Museum was built on this spot in 1978; burial objects and other relics of the Han Dynasty are on display here. The massive stone carvings that stand in front of the tomb of Huo Qubing are among the finest examples of Chinese art.

9. Zhaoling, Qianling
Zhaoling is the tomb of Li Shimin (599-649), the second Tang Emperor known as Tai Zong. It is located on Jiujun Mountain in Liquan County northwest of Xi'an. Jiujun Mountain rises 1,188 meters above sea level and is flanked by undulating mountain ranges to the east and west. Occupying an imposing on a mountainside. Surrounded by more than 160 tombs of high-ranking court officials and generals, Zhaoling covers an area of 20,000 hectares with a circumference of 10 kilometers. The stone carving "Six Steeds at Zhaoling" is one of the best examples of Tang Dynasty sculpture. The lifelike carving represents the six horses that carried the first Tang Emperor Tai Zong to victory in the battles that brought the country under his rule.

Qianling located on the northern peak of Liangshan Mountain in Qianxian County, Qianling was the tomb of the Tang Emperor Gao Zong (650-683) and his consort, Empress Wu Zetian (624-705). There are many subsidiary tombs of nobles and ranking officials in the area surrounding Qianling, which has a circumference of forty kilometers. One of the eighteen imperial tombs of the Tang Dynasty in the Guanzhong area, Qianling was never excavated or vandalized; because it is intact, it is of particularly great historical value.

In front of Qianling stands a large group of stone statues that were carved on the order of Empress Wu Zetian to commemorate the funeral of Emperor Gao Zong. Sixty-one of the figures represent foreign envoys who attended the funeral. Dressed in their national costumes, these life-size statues stand on either side of the passage to the tomb, hands cupped to the chest in a gesture of prayer. This seems to indicate that close relations existed at that time between China and various other regions.

Near Qianling are the tombs of Princes s Yongtai and Prince Zhanghuai. Murals of great artistic value have been found here in excavated underground chambers.

10. Banpo Village
The remains of this primitive settlement, consisting of a dwelling area, pottery center, and graveyard, were discovered in 1953 about six kilometers east of Xi'an. Archaeologists believe that this settlement was a Neolithic maternal clan community. Many ancient objects have been unearthed here, including household utensils, pottery, and tools made of stone or animal bones. Some of the objects are decorated with zoomorphic or geometric designs. The discovery of this settlement is of great importance to the study of primitive Chinese society. The site became a museum in 1958.

11. Mount Huashan
Located south of Huayin County, 120 kilometers east of Xi'an, Mount Huashan is one of the five sacred mountains of China. Its sheer cliffs and precipices make the climb a perilous adventure. The mountain has five peaks, of which the tallest is Wild Goose Alighting Peak (Luoyanfeng) (2,200 meters). The top of this peak commands a view of the vast expanse of the Guanzhong Plain to the north, where the Yellow River (Huanghe) winds like a dragon, and of the rolling Qinling mountain range to the southwest. The East Peak, also called Morning Sun (Zhaoyang) Peak, offers a magnificent view of the sunrise. Mount Huashan is also known for its Taoist monasteries; one of these is West Mountain Temple (xiyuemiao), located north of Huayin County Town. Other places of historical interest include Jade Fountain Garden (Yuquanyuan) and Female Immortal Temple (Xianguguan).

12. Lishan Scenic Area
This beautiful area is located in Lintong County, twenty-five kilometers northeast of Xi'an. There are hot springs at Lishan, and a royal park was built here during the Zhou Dynasty some three thousand years ago.
Huaqing Pool resort at the foot of Lishan Hill where Emperor Xuan Zong (685-762) of the Tang Dynasty used to spend the winter with his favorite concubine, Lady Yang. They bathed at Gui Fei Pool.
East of Huaqing Pool is the hillside pavilion where Chiang Kaishek was captured on December 12, 1936, in the famous Xi'an Incident - an uprising launched by generals Zhang Xueliang and Yang Hucheng. Chinese was forced to agree to end the civil war and join the national united front against the Japanese invaders.
East of Old Mother Hall (Laojundian) are the remains of Longevity Hall (Changshengdian). According to legend, it was here that Emperor Xuan Zong and Lady Yang vowed to live together forever as "lovebirds in the sky and twin lotus flowers on a stalk."
The remains of beacon towers can be seen on Xixiuling Peak. They were built for defense more than three thousand years ago. The peak also affords a view of the tomb of Emperor Qin Shi Huang (259-210 B.C.)

13.The Ancient City Wall:
The first landmark visitors will encounter in Xi'an is the ancient city wall, which stretches round the old city. The northern side runs parallel to the railway. Xi'an was originally a walled city, and even today the wall is considered a landmark dividing the city into the inner part and the outer part. The city wall is massive - tall, long and thick. The South Gate and North Gate are the two main entrances to the inner city. The city itself is neatly arranged along the city wall.

Xi'an City Wall was erected in the 14th century Ming Dynasty, under the regime of Emperor Zhu Yuanzhang. When Zhu Yuanzhang captured Huizhou, long before the establishment of the Ming Dynasty, he was admonished by a hermit named Zhu Sheng, who told him to "build high walls, store abundant provisions and take your time in proclaiming yourself emperor." This advice Zhu Yuanzhang heeded. Once the whole country was unified, he sent orders to the local governments to build city walls on a large scale. Zhu assured that "out of all the mountains and rivers in the world, the area of Central Qin is the most strongly fortified and strategically impregnable." The current city wall is an enhancement of the old Tang Dynasty structure, as a result of the emperor's wall building campaign.

The Structure of the City Wall
The first city wall of Xi'an was built of earth, rammed layer upon layer. The base layer was made of earth, quick lime, and glutinous rice extract, tamped together. It made the wall extremely strong and firm. Later, the wall was totally enclosed with bricks. A moat, wide and deep, ran around the city. Over the moat, there used to be a huge drawbridge, which would cut off the way in and out of the city, once lifted. Xi'an's city wall, after its enlargement in the Ming Dynasty, stands 12 meters high. It is 12-14 meters across the top, 15-18 meters thick at bottom, and 13.7 kilometers in length. There is a rampart every 120 meters. The ramparts are towers that extend out from the main wall. The ramparts were built to allow soldiers to see enemies trying to climb the wall. The distance between the ramparts is within the range of arrows fired from either side. This allowed soldiers to protect the entire wall without exposing themselves to the enemy. There are altogether 98 ramparts; each has a sentry building on top of it.

The Gates
The gates of the city wall were the only way to go into and out of town. Therefore, these gates were important strategic points, which the feudal rulers racked their brains to try to defend. In Xi'an's case, the north, south, east and west gates, each consist of three towers: the gate tower, which holds the drawbridge, the narrow tower and the main tower. The gate tower stands proud of the wall. It is used to lift and lower the drawbridge. The narrow tower is in the middle. Its inner walls have square windows to shoot arrows from. The main tower is the innermost one, ande forms the entrance to the city.

The narrow tower and the main tower are connected by tunnels, in which soldiers could be stationed. From the tunnels there are also horse passages leading to the top of the wall. There are gradually ascending steps, made so that it was easy for war horses to ascend and descend. There are all together 11 horse passages around the city.

Watch Towers
A watch tower is located on each of the four corners of the wall. The one at the southwestern corner is round, probably after the model of the imperial city wall of the Tang Dynasty, but the other three are square-shaped. On top of the watch towers there is a corner rampart, higher and larger than the ordinary ramparts. This shows the strategic importance of the corners of the city wall in war times.

Along the outer crest of the city wall there are crenellations or battlements. Under each of the 5,984 crenels there is a square hole, from which arrows were shot and watch was kept. The lower, inner walls are called parapets. They were used to prevent soldiers from falling off the wall, when traveling back and forth.

Shaanxi History Museum:
This modern museum (1992) takes its design cues from Tang Dynasty (AD 618 – 907) architecture, but its relics chronicle thousands of years of China's civilization, from prehistoric times to the 20th century. When Europe was entering its Medieval Period, the Tang Dynasty, with Xi'an its capital, was flourishing. Often considered the most golden of China's "Golden Ages," the Tang Dynasty is well represented here.
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