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Xian

Nation of Heaven

XianXianXian
  • General Information

    Other Name: Chang'an, District: Shaanxi, State: NORTHWEST CHINA, China
    Area: 12.854 kmĀ²
    Languages Spoken: Mendarin and local dilects
    Long Distance Code: +8629
    Importance: Xi'an is the largest industrial center in China's mid-west and northwest.
    Best Time to Visit: November to December and March
    International Access: Has an international airport and connected to most part of China.
  • Description

    Xi'an, capital of Shaanxi Province, with a 6,000-year history, was known as Chang'an in ancient times.
  • Location

    Xi'an lies on the Guanzhong Plain in the central part of China with the average elevation of 400 meters above sea level.
  • Climate

    Temperate Climate
The first landmark visitors will encounter in Xi'an was its ancient City Wall, which stretches just outside the railway station. 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 - it is 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.

The City Wall was first erected in 14 century, under the regime of Emperor Zhuyuanzhang in the Ming dynasty. At the time 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 "built high walls, store abundant provisions and take your time in proclaiming yourself emperor", advice which 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 assumed that "out of all the mountains and rivers in the world, the central Qin is the most strongly fortified and strategically impregnable."

Situated in the Da Ci'en Temple, about four kilometers from the urban center, the Big Wild Goose Pagoda is one of the most famous Buddhist pagodas in China. The Pagoda was built in the Tang Dynasty to collect Buddhist scriptures. Although it is worn by wind and rain, the architecture is well preserved.

Originally built in 589 A.D. in the Sui Dynasty, Da Ci'en temple was named Wu Lou Si Temple. It was not until 648 A.D. when Emperor Li Zhi, then still a crown prince, sponsored a repair project on the temple. This was a symbol of thanksgiving to his mother for her kindness, after she had suffered an early death. The temple then assumed the present name Temple of Thanksgiving. The Emperor Gaozong was said to pay homage to the temple twice a day by looking in its direction from the Hanyuan Palace.

The temple, with 13 separate courtyards, contained 1,879 magnificent-looking rooms altogether and was a place of grand extent in the Tang Dynasty. However, it went into gradual decay after the downfall of the Tang Dynasty. The halls and rooms that have survived the ages are structures that were built in the Ming Dynasty. The Tang Regime gave orders to build a chamber for the translation of Buddhist scriptures in an effort to have the then widely renowned Master Xuanzang (Monk Tripitaka) agree to be the head of the temple.

The Wild Goose Pagoda was finished in 652 A.D. Its five stories are 60 meters in height. The decay of the earth-cored pagoda caused the new construction of a 10-storey pagoda from 701 to 704. However, the winds of war in the years to come reduced the pagoda almost to ruins, which in turn resulted in the construction of a 7-stored, 64-meter-high structure today. The storied pagoda was an architectural marvel. It was built with layers of bricks but without any cement in between. The bracket style in traditional Chinese architecture was also used in the construction of the pagoda. The seams between each layer of bricks and the " prisms' on each side of the pagoda are clearly visible. The grand body of the pagoda with its solemn appearance, simple style and high structure, is indeed a good example of Chinese traditional architecture.

Huhou Waterfall, located at the intersection of Shanxi Province and Shaanxi Province, some 400 kilometers from Xian, is the second largest waterfall in China.

It is a great pleasure that a visitors should not miss in the Yellow River Basin. The mighty Yellow River, the second largest river in China, surge its way form the Qinghai Province to the border of Shanxi and Shaanxi Provinces where it suddenly found its way through a narrow valley blocked by mountains on both sides. The riverbed abruptly narrows down from 300 meters to 50n meters, turning the placid water to rapids. The tremendous water splashes on the rock, forming a magnificent waterfall of 15 meters high and 20 meters wide, as if the water is pouring down from a huge teapot, hence the name Hukou( means mouth of teapot). The scene can be overwhelming, water stirs up masses of smoke and clouds, with color turning from yellow to grey, grey to blue. The locals call this awesome scenery "smoke from river".

Over history, a number of prominent poets and painters once traveled here. Wowing at the grand view, they left numerous works giving high honor of the waterfall.

Qianling, the tomb of Emperor Gaozong and his empress Wuzetian, is located on the peak of Liangshan, some 80 kilometers away from Xian. The great mausoleum was first built in 684 and is one of the best preserved tombs among the Tang Dynasty's 18 mausoleums.

Qian Mausoleum was originally enclosed by two walls. The inner wall stretches 1,45 kilometers from west to north, 1,58 kilometers from south to north, 24 meters thick. There are four gates, one in each side.

Stone sculptures scatter around everywhere in the mausoleum sites. Exquisite and elegant, these stone carvings upright on top of the mountain for over 1,200 years. The first stone sculpture encounters visitor is a pair of ornamental pillars (called Huabiao in Chinese, which can commonly be seen in front of palace complex and tombs). The tall and upright pillars are charismatic and their shafts, plinths and crown were all decorated with line carvings.

Along the sacred path, visitor will then find pairs of winged horses and rose finches. Ancient Chinese supreme rulers wanted their underground life would be prosperous so they often had propitious creatures, birds, beasts placed in front of their mausoleum to guard them. The winged horses, wings decorated with slender, delicate lines, are in a flying gallop. The rose finches, in high relief, were beautifully shaped and sturdily carved. It is said that because rose finches were a gift from Afghanistan for the funeral and could serve as guards, a pair of them were erected in front of the tomb.

There are also stone steles. The east one, was originally erected blank following Empress Wuzetian's will which read, my achievements or mistaking should be evaluated by the later generations, so left my stele blank. This blank tablet was 6.3 meters high, 2.1 meters wide and 1.5 meters thick. During the Song and Jin dynasties, however, quite a few travelers did inscribe it, changing the uncharactered stele into a charactered one. In the west of the "blank" stele stands the Telling the Emperor's Deeds Stele, 6.3 meters high and 1.9 meters wide. The carvings on the stele give high honor of Emperor Gaozong for his minitary and administrative achievements.

The Terracotta Army Museum lie 1.5 km east to the Tomb of Qin First Emperor.

The Terracotta Army figures lie underground for more than 2000 years. In 1974, farmers digging a well about 1500 meters east of the tomb uncovered one of the greatest archaeological sites in the world. The firstly discovered site of Terracotta Army was named Vault One. In 1976, the other two vaults were uncovered 20-25 meter close to the Vault One, and were named Vault Two and Vault Three respectively. Excavation of the underground vaults of earth and timber revealed thousands of life - sized Terracotta Army in battle formation - a whole army which would accompany its emperor into immortality. The excavation was a real big shock to the whole world - the vaults are so big, the figures are so vivid and the number of the figure is so incredible!