The Bell Tower
The Bell Tower (along with the Drum Tower) are two of the most notable and beautiful landmarks of Xian. Nestled in the center of the town within the ancient city gates the Bell Tower offers not only a glimpse in to ancient China but amazing panoramic views of the beautiful city of Xian. While Xian is most notable for the nearby Terracotta Warriors the city itself is both picturesque and teeming with culture and architectural beauty both new and old. The Bell Tower is a fine example of this and is perfectly ingrained within the modern city. To reach the Bell Tower which is in the middle of a busy roundabout you enter stairs going underneath the streets which have shops and circles around with various exits.
The Bell Tower, is a stately traditional building, that marks the geographical center of the ancient capital. From this important landmark extend East, South, West and North Streets, connecting the Tower to the East, South, West and North Gates of the City Wall of the Ming Dynasty.
The wooden tower, which is the largest and best-preserved of its kind in China, is 36 meters (118 feet) high. It stands on a brick base 35.5 meters (116.4 feet) long and 8.6 meters (28.2 feet) high on each side. During the Ming Dynasty, Xian was an important military town in Northwest China, a fact that is reflected in the size and historic significance of its tower.
Terracotta Warriors (Pit #2)
Located 66 feet (20 meters) to the north of Pit 1 at the eastern end, Pit 2 is in an "L" shape. This pit was discovered in April 1976, covering an area of 64,583 square feet (6,000 square meters). It measures 407 feet (124 meters) long from east to west, 322 feet (98 meters) wide from north to south and 16 feet (5 meters) deep. Different from Pit 1, Pit 2 consists of mixed military forces in four arrays, archers, war chariots, cavalrymen and infantrymen. The four arrays seemed to exist independently, but could be assembled immediately to constitute a complete battle formation during the war times. This reflects the unique strategy of Qin military affairs.
The excavation work of Pit 2 is still continuing. At present a large area of the remnants of the roof beams and a small part of the pottery warriors and horses are being exhibited in the pit. It is a rare chance for tourists to get up close and personal with how the excavation process works and the fact that it is still ungoing. While not as large or visually appealing as Pit #1 it offers a broader scope of the different formations used and some of the different types of warriors and officers.
The Terracotta Warriors (Pit #1)
The idea of the Terracotta Warriors has always fascinated me, the thought of thousands of buried soldiers standing guard in the Emperor's tomb lost for hundreds of years and then rediscovered by farmers is an amazing story. Visiting the Terracotta Warriors was not a letdown, at least in the size and immesnity of the pits and soldiers. Although I thought I knew what to expect I found I was still blown away by the stunning sight of thousands of soldiers, horse, and chariots standing at attention, frozen in time. Pit #1 is stunning site to behold, its in a giant auditorium and covers the length of almost two football fields. Its the most spectactular of the four pits and has over 6,000 warriors to fawn over. Your initial entrance will be towards an overlook of the pit and then there is a ramp on either side leading down to a walkway that circles the pit giving you chance to get closer to the warriors. Sadly you cannot get down into the pit and rub shoulders with the Terracotta Warriors, so obviously having you picture taken with one of the warriors is also out of the question. So unless your Xiang Yu don't plan on being able to get up close and personal with Emperor Qin Shi Huang finest.
Tour around the city
Since it was a school-trip we also went sightseeing in Xi'an wisiting the drum tower, a chinese mosque and a local market not far from the mosque. The market was very nice with the usual chinese goods like handmade silk paintings, small figurines of dragons etc. etc. etc. Do not forget to haggle! I you don't they concider you rude and/or a bit stupid :)
- School Holidays
- Religious Travel
- Historical Travel
The Terracotta Soldiers- Emperor Qin Shi Huang's M
You have never seen anything quite like this, and you will never again! It is hard to believe that the estimated amount of 7000 uniqely designed real sized terracotta soldiers could lie hidden in the ground for more than 2000 years!
A couple of local farmers stumbled across these ancient figures when drilling a water well in 1974 close to the man made mountain called Lishan, the tomb of emperor Qin Shi Huang, who was the first emperor of the Qin dynasty form which China got its name.
The tomb of emperor Qin is yet not opened by archeologist due to the belief of his tomb containing a lake of mercury. It is possible to walk the many stairs to the top of Mount Lishan to soak up the historic athmosphere not to mention the amazing view.
Not far from the emperor's tomb you can visit the excavasion site of the terracotta soldiers. Aprox. 8,099 figures has been unearthed including realsize horses and carriages believed to have been made about 210 BC. The soldiers purpose was to guard the emperor's tomb and once carried brass weapons believed to been used in real combat. Some are archers others infantry. The soldiers were discovered in different pits, two of which is open to public. In pit number one you can see over 6000 of the terracotta soldiers.
The museum is quite modern and very tourist orientated. Information is provided in english and the museum even has interactive information of how the soldiers were made, the history of discovering them and so on. The "film room" is worth a visit. Here each of the sides in the sircular shaped room is fitted with a screen playing live images creating the feeling that you're in the middle of a battle.
Besides the overwhelming size of the museum, the thing that supprised me the most was that one of the farmers that discovered the soldiers was sitting otside the giftshop signing books about the terracotta soldiers. Allthough he did not speak english it was nice to see that the museum had included him in the display of ancient history!
- Historical Travel
- School Holidays
Few things are as striking as the Terracotta Warriors. There are about 1000 of them uncovered, with about 7000 more underground.
They have 3 amazing features-
1 the amount of work that went into creating them
2 The amount of effort that went into destroying them.
3 The ongoing work to preserve and renovate them.
The 'Banpo' neolithic village
Well, I visited this place a few years ago, and it was 'ok'. It's one of the oldest villages every found, however it's being extremely poorly excavated, so there's water everywhere and in reality you can't see much, let alone imagine how they lived 6,000 years ago. It's pretty much a waste of time and i'd suggest going to the history museum instead.
This is one of the 5 'sacred' mountains of China. I did not visit it and only saw it from the bus, but it looked amazing. I've been to another of the 'sacred mountains', that being the Yellow mountain in Anhui province. These things kick ass and are totally mind-blowing. You could spend days, maybe even weeks in this place without getting bored / seeing the same thing twice. Oh, and there's wildlife in there, unlike anywhere else in China these days...
Check out www.kamleung.com for info.
- Hiking and Walking
- Mountain Climbing
The Big Wild Goose Pagoda
This is one of the 'must see' attractions of Xi'an. Dating back to its creation in 654 (or something crazy like that) it has survived many earthquakes and remains almost pristine to this day (well it looks great, that's for sure). It's been renovated a couple times, sure, but it still keeps it old-time look.
Entrance fee is 25 Yuan / person. Another 20, if you wanna walk up the 64m pagoda itself. Oh, and don't miss the huge monk statue...makes for a great picture.
Take the # 610 bus from the Bell Tower for a about 15 minutes. Once you've past the history museum it's just another stop. Then, walk a few blocks, look to your right and you'll see it peeking above the trees. Just walk in that direction and you can't miss it, there are always a few hundred people there. Or I was told you could take bus # 609 from the Bell Tower, all the way to the last stop.
- Historical Travel
The Shanxi History Museum
This place is awesome. First off, get here by taking the # 610 bus (from the Bell Tower). It'll be on your left, and you'll see tons of Chinese flags and such. You can't really miss it. It's about 15 minutes from the city center. Anyway, if you take that same bus 1 or 2 more stops you can easily get to the Big Wild Goose Pagoda, too.
Back to the museum! As I was saying, this place rules. You can see relics that are 6,000 years old, burial items, objects used in ancient rituals, etc. It's very insightful and helps you to gain an in-depth look at how these people lived a few thousand years ago. The entrance fee is 35 Yuan. Pictures are allowed (with/without flash). Everything's behind glass though so I wouldn't recommend using your flash.
A great, great museum. One of the best in China.
- Historical Travel
- Museum Visits
The Muslim quaters
The entrance is located right under the Drum Tower. You can't miss it, there's McDonalds 10 feet away. Upon entering, turn right after having walked about 10 metres, and you'll enter a little alley-way where people sell stuff. There's all kinds of junk and you can find lots of things...some interesting. Those people are desperate to sell because they don't see many people every day, so don't be afraid to bargain at insanely-low prices. Also, be sure to know your Chinese numbers...that helps a lot.
The Mosque is located at the end of a huge courtyard. I couldn't find it this time around, but have visited it once, and it was really worth it. Very peaceful and relaxing. It was built in 742 (!)
There's great food everywhere (most of it on a stick, which I personally love) so don't miss out. Cheap and good.
The Teracotta Warriors, or Bin Ma Yong
This is the reason why you should come to Xi'an. One of the most magnificient pieces of history ever found, the warriors and the Great Wall and the 2 most prized-possessions of Chinese history (in my opinion).
They are open 8:30-5:30. Contrary to what other people would say on virtual tourist, pictures *are* allowed there (I was there just 3 weeks ago), but don't use a flash, because that's pushing it :)
They are located 1-hour away from Xi'an. To get there, you need to go to the bus station, which is located opposite of the train station. Bus 310 can take you there, but forget I ever said that. You'll never get on. People claw, punch, kick and fight to get a seat on those buses (which come around almost every 10 minutes). The tickets are only 10 Yuan round-trip, so I guess that's why. However, the best bet is to hang around in the corner of that section and to look for other foreigners. Then, if you're 4 or 5 people, rent a taxi or a truck to bring you there. Those people will find you first, trust me, they're all over the place, and they'll spot you immediately..foreigners stick out like sore thumbs there. Don't settle for more than 40 Yuan round-trip, otherwise you're being cheated. 40's a good deal.
They might tell you that they have to stop in at some kind of store first, because those drivers get a small commission for bringing people there...but it's only for 5 minutes, so don't worry.
The entrance ticket is 90 Yuan...the price went up from 65 two years ago. The luggage check is another 10. They re-organized the entire entrance, so that the people who used to sell stuff and clog up the entire place were moved off to the side...so if you're interested in buying junk on the way out, you can't miss 'em.
- Historical Travel
Haqing Hot Springs
These are a series of Hot Springs that the emporers have enjoyed for 2000 years. Bus#306 stops outside the cable car enterence. A mini bus runs back to the train station and takes about 35 minutes and costs about 3-4RMB. Enterece fee is 30RMB. Hot pool and Sauna 20-120RMB. It is open Daily from 7am-7pm.
Little Wild goose Pagoda
The Little Goose Pagoda was built in AD709, and was damaged in a couple of Earthquakes. There is also a quiet and pretty park on the site. Admission is Y5 for the Park and 10RMB for the climb up the Pagoda. It is open daily 8:30am-6:00PM.
The Big Wild Goose Pagoda
Know one knows why the "Wild Goose" name was added for the Pagoda. This is in a nice park with temples and beautiful Landscaping. The Pagoda itself was first built in AD652, and has over 600 Buddist Scriptures inside. The Pagoda has been rebuilt many times in the last 1200years. Open Daily in summer from 8:30am-6:30pm Admission is 20RMB for park enterence and Pagoda climbing.