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Home>> China Guide >> City Guide >> Xian


Xian Bell TowerXian is a museum city dotted with the historic relics of past dynasties, from the restored Ancient City Wall to the majesty of the Terracotta Warriors. Xian will delight travelers today, as it did centuries ago as the starting point of the famed Silk Road.

Xian, the capital of Shaanxi Province, has over 3,000 years of recorded history, with human habitation present here as early as the Neolithic times, as discovered at the Banpo Village. Xian has been the capital of 12 dynasties, though it has been known as various names, most notably as Changan. It was also the starting point of the Silk Road, where camels were loaded for their long and perilous journey to Central Asia. Xian's links to Central Asia goes beyond trade as Islam continues to have an influence on the local flavor through the Muslim Hui minority.

Big Wild Goose PagodaAs dynasty after dynasty added their own mark to Xian, the relics of old palaces, temples and tombs abound throughout the city and surrounding countryside. The tyrannical Qin dynasty emperor Qin Shihuang, with his capital at Xianyang, close to present day Xian, left his indelible mark through the famed Terracotta Warriors.

The Tang dynasty is considered one of China's golden ages for its unmatched cultural achievements. Trade reached Central Asia and Europe, thousands of students from Japan and Korea arrived in Xian to study in acknowledgement of Tang cultural preeminence and Chinese monks traveled to India to copy Buddhist sutras. At its zenith during the Tang dynasty, Xian was the world's largest and most cosmopolitan city, measuring 84.1 square kilometers with over one million residents.

Though Xian was large, it was not affected by the incomprehensible twisting and turning lanes of similar cities of the era. As the first planned city in China, it was organized into a neat grid layout, highly symbolic in geomancy. Xian’s city layout would influence other cities such as Beijing and Kyoto.

Xian MuseumWith the influx of foreign traders and students, and the self-confidence of the powerful and cosmopolitan Tang dynasty, Xian became more than a trading center, but also a nexus of cultures, religions, artistic endeavor and learning. Today the city’s charm lies in its historic atmosphere, there's a palpable sense of past glories, vestiges of its history are ever present. One can easily imagine the sights and sounds of Xian at the height of its glory when wandering along the city walls or strolling through the old Muslim quarter. Xian has recently become an important center for the central governments drive to develop western China. As an economic center for the region, Xian is in a natural position for further development; aviation is already an important industry for the city.

Xian Memorable Experience

Wandering through the Muslim quarter and experiencing the sights and sounds of Xi'an's Hui minority.
Biking atop the old city wall and enjoying a great view of the city.
Eating the various local specialties at the food market.

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