Travel through Xi’an and you will find yourself walking through the comprehensive book of China’s rich and ancient history. The capital city for 13 dynasties, Xi’an has prospered through the years with the emergence of the Silk Road. It is the birthplace of China’s many ideas, discoveries, civilizations and traditions, thus making China a big influential force in the world. Take a step back in time and be astonished by Xi’an’s inexhaustible monuments and cultural relics.
Best of Xi’An
1. The Museum of Qin Terracotta Warriors and Horses
In Xi’an lies the famed Terracotta Army, one of the most identifiable symbols of China. This form of funerary art is a collection of detailed terracotta sculptures depicting Emperor Qin Shi Huang’s army. Dating back to 210 BC, the army guards the emperor in the afterlife.
2. Xi’an City Wall
The city wall stands as a witness to how great ancient Chinese military architecture was. Considering its whopping size of 12 metres in height, 15-18 metres in width at the base and 13.7 kilometres in total length, it’s the world’s largest city wall. It’s best to traverse with a leisurely bike ride.
3. Xi’An Muslim Street (Huimin Street)
This busy street is not only famous for its shopping, but also because of the fact that all the shops here are managed by Muslims. You can find just about anything here, and you can get great bargains when you haggle. Don’t forget to try all the tasty (and halal) treats as you wander along the street!
4. Grand Qin Opera – Return Back To Chang’an in the Dream
The new interpretation of the classic Qin opera with first-class acoustics and wonderful musical production, this large scale poetic performance will take you back to the time when Xi’an was known as Chang’an, the capital of eternal peace. The plots are based on historical legends, so skimming the synopsis is enough for you to follow the story.
5. Big Wild Goose Pagoda
The emblem of Xi’an — the pagoda was built in 652 AD and additional five storeys were added by 704 AD. Here, you can find Buddhist scriptures and relics brought from India to China by eminent monk Xuanzang. Climb to the top of the pagoda to enjoy stunning city views, or take a stroll around its pleasant parks and western eateries in the vicinity. Make sure you catch the water and music show at the front fountain daily.
6. The Drum Tower and the Bell Tower
Never worry about telling the day from the night in Xi’an–the Bell Tower got its name from the large bronze-cast bells stricken at dawn, whilst the Drum Tower is named after the huge drum beaten at sunset. The Drum Tower and Bell Tower are the grand icons of the city.
7. The Great Mosque of Xi’an
Islam was introduced in China during the Tang dynasty, and the Great Mosque was constructed in 742 as the first mosque in the land. The architecture is heavily Chinese-influenced, with attractive pavilions and parks complementing the mosque’s complex.
8. Huaqing Hot Springs
Located near the Huaqing Palace, take a nice warm dip in the many hot springs as you’re being surrounded by the picturesque Mount Li. The Tang emperor built a palace at the foot of Mount Li so he could frolic with his favourite Imperial Lady Yang. You can hop onboard the nearby cable car to catch a bird’s eye view of the entire area.
9. Hua Shan
A must-visit for those who want to catch a breath of fresh air while getting the best view of Xi’an from one of the Five Sacred Mountains of China. Hiking up this mountain, you will be passing through lush greeneries and ancient Taoist temples, where whispering chants from afar add to the serene and solemn ambiance.
10. Shaanxi History Museum
Shaanxi Province is considered to be the birthplace of the Chinese civilization and within this huge museum complex of four exhibition halls, you will be taken to a wonderful journey through thousands of years of rich Chinese history. Expect to see remarkable items such as the golden bowl with lotus patterns and the best preserved coffin from Tang Dynasty.
11. Yang Rou Pao Muo
The signature dish of Xi’an is a must-try experience by itself – flat unleavened bread broken into small pieces and lamb soup poured over the shreds along with meat, noodles or scallions, best served with pickled garlic or chilli. One can also opt for the beef version.