Xi’an is a beautiful city, to the west of Beijing. There are regular night trains from Beijing to Xi’an but if you have limited time, you can take a two-hour flight from Beijing to get there. Air China has lots of daily flights and the price is around 450 US$ round trip.
When I arrived to Xi’an I didn’t have any idea of how getting to Terracotta Army site which is situated in the north east part of the city. Apparently Xi’an municipality has a working network of tour guides. Just at the exit gate of the airport, a licensed tour company helps travellers like me. After ten minutes, I was on the way to Terracotta Army, within a luxury and aircon’d car, with an English speaking driver.
Almost after two hours we arrived to the site. The driver organized quickly a good English speaking guide for me and we started our tours which lasted almost 2 hours.
The site is composed of 3 pits and with some other buildings which are used as museum and galleries. Qin Shihuang is the emperor who created this tomb complex. He was alive when the construction of this tomb complex had been started. It took almost 36 years to complete the site. The tomb of theemperor , who was the first emperor who united warriors states in China, was found 1.5 km. away from the Terracotta Army. In ancient times, in China and in many eastern civilization it was a custom to be buried with valuable objects, even with the servants. The army was done maybe for that. In all 3 pits, there were 8.000 pieces of soldiers, archers, cavalerymen and chariots. Each soldier is 1.8 meters tall, and each has a different face. Each piece shows a high level of artistry with different faces, hairstyles and costumes of the soldiers. The Pit 2 contains mostly some excavations work, the Pit 3 contains high ranked officials around a chariot. The Pit 1 is the largest one when you can admire the lines of the army. According to my guide, all the corpses were found without heads, and the archeologists try to resemble a soldier pieces by pieces, which take almost 6 months to finish a piece. During the excavations, the archeologists found an undamaged soldier statute, and he’s called lucky warrior. I also saw the small well which a peasant tried to open in 1974 and from where the whole site was discovered. (The peasant became famous afterwords, and he even signs his photo at the exit of the pits)
The famous charriot….
The Lucky Warrior…
The Commander with Big Belly…
… and the Terracotta Army!
Xi’an was the capital of ancient China for a long time and this the city where the famous Silk Road starts. The city is very well organized and the center is surrounded with ancient walls dating from 14th century. On our road to the city center, we stopped at the Big Wild Goose Pagado, a Buddhist temple constructed in the 7th century by Tang emperor Gaozong to honor his mother. The scripts of Xuan Zang, who was the first Chinese Buddhist, are preserved in this pagoda. The scripts are the famous work of art of Xuan Zang, entitled Journey to the West.
Big Pagoda in Xi’an
Once entered through the ancient city walls, we stopped at the Muslim district which is called Huajue Lane. The city has a considerable of Muslim population and the Great Mosque situated in this district is the oldest mosque in China. Its architecture is very different than other mosques: it’s rather like a Chinese temple and the courtyards and alleys are very pleasant. One interesting thing: the prayer hall is located in the west unlike many mosques in the world which prayer halls are situated in the south / south east.
One of the courtyards of the Great Mosque in Xi’an
In order to go to the great Mosque you have walk on a pedestrian street with plenty of Muslim restaurants and snack shops. At the end of the street you’ll find Drum tower and Bell Tower of the city but before seeing them, try some of the delicious dumplings or noodles or sweeties in one of the restaurants. The narrow street down from the mosque is plenty of souvenir or antiques shops.
Famous wallnuts of Xi’an
Xi’an is a beautiful city and is really worth to spend a few days there to feel the history.