Xian Ancient City Wall
Xian Ancient City Wall is one of the most complete city walls that survived through China's long history. Built during the Tang dynasty (618 - 907 AD) the foundations of Xian City Wall in fact date back to the Ming Dynasty (1368 - 1644 AD). When the Dynasty was established, Zhu Yuanzhang, the first emperor of the Dynasty, ordered for city walls to be built on a large scale to keep out unwanted bandits and barbarians. Xian City Wall was enlarged during this period and in later years it underwent large scale reparation work.
Xian City Wall is undoubtedly an imposing piece of architecture. The massive walls measure 12m high and 16m wide at the base and have a 13.74 km circumference. The first City Wall of Xi'an was built out of layer upon layer of earth. The base layer was made of earth, quick lime, and glutinous rice extract combined together. It made the wall extremely strong and firm. Later, the wall was totally enclosed with bricks. On top of the wall, brick-made water troughs are found every 40-60 metres along, which are essential to the structure for drainage purposes and have also played a very important role in the long-term protection of the City Wall.
In ancient times, the gates of the city wall were the only ways to go into and out of town. Therefore, these gates were important, strategic points, that the feudal rulers racked their brains to try to defend. In Xian's case, the east, west, south and north gates each consist of three gate towers: Zhenglou, Zhalou and Jianlou. Zhenglou tower is the main entrance to the city. Jianlou and Zhenglou are connected by tunnels, called Wengcheng in which soldiers could be stationed. From the Wengcheng there are also horse passages leading to the top of the wall. There are a total of 11 horse passages around the city.
Today, a circular park has been built in between the high wall and the city moat, all around the city. Citizens and travellers can enjoy themselves among the swaying trees and blooming flowers, the many rockeries, and the typically Chinese styled buildings.