Only a short walk from our Hotel was the entrance to the City Wall. East gate entrance was closer, but more people had recommended getting onto the Wall at the South Gate Entrance - Im not sure why!!?? Because we found it extremely difficult finding a way to cross the very very very busy roundabout to gain entry to the wall - nearly got killed several times that day!
Entrance to the Wall was 40rmb = about $7AUD which is a small price to pay to escape the chaos of Xian and to walk above it in a completely different world. The day we were there, the weather was perfect, sunny and warm and we walked about 1km in one direction and then back. Im told the Wall is an in tact 14km walkable wall all around inner Xian, so if you have time on your sleeves, I would recommend walking the entire distance. You can also catch a small minimus or hire a bicycle to ride on the wall, but we just walked.
Funnily enough, we came across an Australian guy who was by himself and he asked us to take a pic of him on his bike, we got talking and it ended up that he worked with a guy at Qantas in Sydney who was best friends with Tracy's brother!!! What a small world we live in.
The Sentry buildings were built on the ramparts of the wall for guard soldiers to take shelter from wind and rain and to store weapons. Every 120 meters, there is a rampart which extends out from the main wall and each one features a sentry building. All together, there are 98 ramparts on the wall, which were built to defend against the enemy climbing up the wall.
The fortifications of Xi'an represent one of the oldest and best preserved Chinese city walls. Construction of the first city wall began in 194 BC and took just four years to build. That wall measured 25.7 km in length and 12-16 m in thickness at the base. The area within the wall was around 36 sq km. The current existing wall was started in the Ming Dynasty in 1370. It encircles a much smaller city of 12 sq km and measures 11.9 km in circumference, 12 m in height, and 15-18 m in thickness at the base. The wall itself is surrounded by a moat.
Every 120 meters, there is a rampart which extends out from the main wall. All together, there are 98 ramparts on the wall, which were built to defend against the enemy climbing up the wall. Each rampart has a sentry building, in which the soldiers could protect the entire wall without exposing themselves to the enemy. The distance between every two ramparts is just within the range of an arrow shot from either side, so that they could shoot the enemy, who wanted to attack the city, from either the side. On the outer side of the city wall, there are 5948 crenulations, namely battlements. The soldiers can outlook and shoot at the enemy. On the inner side, parapets were built to protect the soldiers from falling off.
The South Gate is probably the most visited gate in the city wall of Xian. It's named Yongning (meaning eternal peace) and is one of only four within the city walls 12km length. It's possible to walk up onto the walls from here and then walk along them. The views from the south gate are pretty good as well (see next tip).
One of the most relaxing things I did in Xian was to hire a bicycle and ride the City Wall. The views of the city were wonderful and there was a great sunset too.
As it was Golden Week there were lots of activities happening everywhere, including on top of the wall so it was a very entertaining ride.
You can make the ride as long or as short as you want, bikes were for hire on the wall.
The cost of the bicycles varies, depending on the amount of time you wish to have the bicycle for. The initial cost for us was 30 YUAN, approx US$4.50, and we had to return the bicycle within 2.5 hours. For every hour after that we were charged an additional 10 YUAN.
There are quite a few things to look at along the way including a museum, cannons, bells and, of course, there are excellent viewing opportunities both inside and out of the city.
In case you have a flat tire, or you have mechanical problems, there are other areas along the wall that you are able to swap your bike at. The large cobblestones can cause the occasional puncture to occur and the employees are more than happy to swap your bike over.
As you can see by the attached photo, the wall is quite flat and easy to ride a bike on. The wall slopes very slightly to the “city side” the entire way around. Although there are large “cobble stones” for the entire trip, the riding was quite safe and uneventful.
The hardest part of the trip was the wind! As you are up quite high it can be difficult when the wind gets up. Once you are used to riding your bike in any one direction you can turn a corner and be riding directly into a headwind! Of course this can also be the opposite and you can have a very nice “tail wind” helping you along
Anne and I were in Xian on the most spectacular sunny day so we decided to hire a bicycle. There are tandem bicycles available but we opted for a standard bicycle each.
There are conflicting reports about the entire circumference of the wall. Some tourist guides advise that it is 13.5 km’s, other books advise that it is 14 km’s and a painted distance marker, with an arrow, on top of the wall shows that it is 16 km’s.
Xian is a fantastic old city that is surrounded by a magnificent high wall. The wall has 4 main Gates; strangely enough they are called the North, South, East and Western gates. There are also 3 smaller entrances comprising of the Zhuque, Duanlv and Heping gates.
Most of the attractions are housed within the walls limits, with easy access through the main gates. I can suggest taking the time to explore the city wall as it has a lot of things to see and do, especially on the top.
One of very few walled cities left in China today, Xi'an is a blend of old and new. Our hostel was located just inside the city walls and so we saw them each and everyday. You can follow a walk around them. At the least they are a landmark in the city and the different gates are common when receiving directions.
Xi'an city centre has two parts really, although they do amalgamate into one. There is the modern section, where you will find all of the usual fast food outlets, air conditioned malls and the like; then there is the older section which largely consists of the Muslim quarter. This area of Xi'an is beautiful, busy narrow cobbled streets with lots of small shops, gorgeous buildings and culture.
Xian has the best intact city wall of any city in China. It is over 10 meters high and surrounds the old part of the city, with a total length of approximately 14 kilometers. The wall is open to visitors, with steps providing access from a handful of points around the city. We accessed the wall from the South Gate, which has a well-preserved guard tower with good views of the city from its top floor (you have to pass through a few souvenir shops to get to the view).
Not only is the Xi'an city wall intact, but so are its guard towers, which rise from the top of the wall every 1/2 km or so. The moat outside the wall is also intact. At night, the wall is lit up very attractively, with lights along its top edge.
The city walls around Xi'an are said to be among the best preserved in China. The sections that I saw definitely lead me to believe that this was true. It was easy to imagine myself defending the city from invading Mongols from the top of this structure.
This is a very well preserved wall, built on the Tang dynasty. You can walk or ride a bicycle to explore it. You can have a great view to the city, even though there's a lot of smog (which I thought it was foggy).
This is the largest and best preserved wall in China! The wall dates back 1400 years . Having been in China a couple of weeks we are already spoiled by havinf seen so many ancient reminders ...so we are not surprised by this.
You can choose to bicycle around the 9 mile loop on top of the wall or just take a stroll on it . The pollution was so heavy when we were there we just took a slow stroll to save our lungs.
Bikes can be rented near the South Gate for about $2.00 an hour.