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Xian is a very old city. As early as the Zhou Dynasty (about 1050 BC - 221 BC) the capitals were near present-day Xian. Qin Shi Huangdi, the first emperor of China, had got his capital in Xianyang not far from Xian and so the Terracotta Army is also not far from Xian. Xian was built at the beginning of the Han Dynasty (206 BC - 220 AD) and it became the capital of China. In this time it was called Chang'an. It became very famous as the capital of the Tang Dynasty (618 - 907). The Tang Dynasty was cosmopolitical and so many visitors from whole Asia came to Chang'an. There were different peoples and religions in Chang'an and with over one million inhabitants Chang'an became the biggest city in the world. Today Xian is the capital of the province Shaanxi and it has got 6.5 million inhabitants. Until today Xian has got a City Wall and like other Chinese cities Xian is built chessboard-like. The City Wall is from the Ming Dynasty (1368 - 1644) and it is 14 km long. The City Wall surrounds the center of the city. The City Wall during the Tang Dynasty (618 - 907) was much bigger. In the center of Xian there is the Bell Tower (built in 1582) and the Drum Tower (built in 1380). Also in the center of Xian there is the Muslim Quarter with a mosque. Muslim businessmen came to China during the Tang Dynasty, but this mosque is from the Ming and Qing Dynasty. Further south, but also inside the City Wall there is the Stele Forest. It is a collection of different important Chinese texts which are engraved in stone. The oldest steles are from the Han Dynasty (206 BC - 220 AD) and they contain the confucian classics. A very famous building in Xian which is outside the City Wall is the Big Wild Goose Pagoda. It was built in 652 (Tang Dynasty) and it is 73 m high. This pagoda belongs to the Temple of Great Maternal Grace. This pagoda was built to keep the Buddhist texts which were brought from India by the Buddhist Monk Xuanzang. In 629 he began his trip and through the Silk Road he traveled to India. In 645 he returned to Chang'an and he translated many Buddhist texts from Sanskrit into Chinese. In Xian there is also the Small Wild Goose Pagoda which was built in 709 and it is 43 m high. In Xian there is the Shaanxi History Museum. In this museum there are objects from the Stone Age till the Qing Dynasty (1644 - 1911).

Bell Tower
The Bell Tower

Big Wild Goose Pagoda
The Big Wild Goose Pagoda

The Terracotta Army

In 1974 Chinese farmers tried to build a well and they discovered the mausoleum of the first emperor of China. It is the Terracotta Army. In 247 BC Qin Shi Huangdi let build his mausoleum. It consists of over 7000 soldiers which are made of terracotta. This tomb is next to Xian under a hill. It is fascinating, because every soldier has got an own facial expression. Some figures are also officers and generals. All figures are as big as a real man. There are also horses and chariots. It is conceivable that the builders of this mausoleum and the servants of Qin Shi Huangdi were buried together with him in this mausoleum.

Terrakotta Army
The Terrakotta Army

Author and Webmaster: Lukas Czarnecki

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Last Update: 03.08.2006