"Xi'an (西安)" Xi'an by cal6060

Xi'an Travel Guide: 1,111 reviews and 3,065 photos


Xi'an was named "Chang'an" before the Ming Dynasty. It is the capital of the Shaanxi Province, located northwest central of China with the population of more than 8 millions.

Xi'an is no different than other big cities in China like Beijing or Nanjing, with modern systematical roads, great efficiency of public transport system, and modern high-rise buildings. Xi'an is unique in term of its pass history as an ancient capital for 3000 years and its strategy location being the starting point of the Silk Road.

The preservation of the Ming dynasty wall that still fenced around the city center is rare to been seen in any Chinese city the size of Xi'an. Old and ancient shop-houses and residence compound are remnant within the city wall specially located near the south gate, like Shuyuanmen. There is a huge Chinese Muslim community living in the city, located northwest of the city center. They lived harmoniously with the Han Chinese with common interests.

East of the city is the beautiful green Li Mountain, the archaeological site of Terracotta Army, and Qin Shi Huang's mausoleum . The discovery of Terracotta Army has drawn Xi'an into one of the most famous tourist destinations in the World. During Warring states Period, China was unified by Qin Dynasty (221-206 BCE) under the Emperor of Qin Shi Huang. During the Emperor of Qin Shi Huang, he unified China with one language, built roads to connect China of different provinces, and undertook gigantic project like the first version of the Great World of China. The discovery of the Terracotta Army and his mausoleum which is located east of Xi'an was his dream of life after death has became an important archaeological site in the World


Xi'an or Chang'an was the capital of China for 13 dynasties with 3000 years of history, also known as one of the Great Ancient Capitals Of China:

(771-256 BC)- Western Zhou Dynasty & Eastern Zhou Dynasty

(221-210 BC) - Qin Dynasty (Emperor Qin Shi Huang)
* He unified China and divided the empire into commanderies and districts with one currency, measures, and language.
* The capital was named Xianyang, northwest of modern Xi'an.
* He built the gigantic mausoleum with Terracotta Army as discovered in modern China.
* He also united various sections of the Great Wall of China.

(202-208 BC) - Western Han Dynasty (Emperor Gao or Liu Bang)
* He moved the capital from Luoyang to Han Capital (3KM Northwest of modern Xi'an.
* He built Changle Palace, Weiyang Palace (north), and the original Xi'an city wall.
* It was the starting point of world longest overland trading route known as the Silk Road.

(8-23 AD) - Xin Dynasty (Emperor Wang Mang)

(191-195 AD) - Eastern Han Dynasty

(331-316 AD) - Western Jin Dynasty

(535-557 AD) - Wei Dynasty

(556-581 AD) - Zhou Dynasty

(582-617 AD) - Sui Dynasty (Emperor Wen)
* A new capital southeast of the ruined Han Dynasty Chang'an called Daxing. He re-united China again after several years of unrest.

(618-690 AD) - Tang Dynasty
* Daxing is renamed to Chang'an in 618.
* Chang'an was one of the largest cities in the World.
* In 652, Great Wild Goose Pagoda was under construction.

(690-705 AD) - Zhou Dynasty

(705-904 AD) - Tang Dynasty
* In 707, Small Wild Goose Pagoda was under construction.
*In 756, An Lushan and Shi Siming occupied the city,and returned to Tang in 757.
*In 763, Tibetan Empire occupied the city, and joined together with Uyghur Khaganate.
* In 783 & 784- Jingyuan Rebellion.
* In 881, Huang Chao occupied the city.
* In 882, Chang'an was taken back by Tang.
* Daming Palace was the imperial palace complex of Tang Dynasty.
* In 904 AD, -End of Tang Dynasty, the capital moved to Luoyang.

Ming Dynasty
* 1370, the city wall that intact to this day was constructed.

My First Xi'an Experience!

I always wanted to visit Xi'an in China. Finally, I managed to visit this City in Oct 2011 from Beijing to Pingyao, then Xi'an. I arrived Xi'an at 5am on the 12th Oct 2011 from Taiyuan Railway Station. The Xi'an Railway Station is located north east outside of the city wall. The city central is surrounded by an ancient wall.

On the 12.10.11 morning, after taking a shower I immediately walked down the street near the hotel. First I discovered the South Gate (Nanmen), the entrance to the ancient wall of Xi'an. I spent about 4 hours walking and cycling around the City Wall to enjoy the views of the city inside and outside the wall. After visiting the Wall, I walked down the Nan Dajie toward the Bell Tower, Drum Tower, and the Muslim quarter including the Beiyuanmen.

On the 13.10.11, I took a bus to the Railway Station to catch a tourist bus 5/306 to archaeological site of Terracotta Army and Mausoleum of Emperor Qinshihuang at 8:30am. The bus has arrived Mt Lishan and Huaqing Palace Heritage Site at 9:30am. I can't visit two sites due to time constraint, I had chosen to visit Mt. Lishan as the bus guide recommended Mt. Lishan can see the entire Huaqing Hotspring. I left Mt. Lishan at 11:45, and took about 30 minutes to arrive Museum of Terracotta Army. I spent 3 hours in Museum of Terracotta Army and 3 hours in Mausoleum of Emperor Qinshihuang. It took 1 hours 20 minutes to return to Xi'an Railway Station. I had dinner in a restaurant near the Railways Station, and got food poisoning in the late evening.

On 14.10.11, I was really exhausted of the diarrhea all night long and did not really had a good night sleep. After taking the Chinese medication, I felt better, and decided to go to Xi'an International Horticultural Expo as planned. It was too crowded to ride a bus heading to the Expo from bus-stop near my hotel, so I took the metro to the Beikezhan Station to check out the North Railway Station and took a bus to the Expo. I spent about 3 hours there, and felt really tired. So, I was heading back to my hotel.

On 15.10.11, I felt much better that day as I had more rest after taking the medication last night. I had a afternoon train to catch heading to Luoyang at 1pm. I had breakfast and walked around Shuyuanmen (ancient cultural street) before taking the metro to the North Railway Station.

Special Note: Huanshan is located east of Xi'an which can be easily reached by speed rail between Xi'an North Railway Station and Zhengzhou. I discovered this route on my way to Luoyang from Xi'an by speed rail. You can stop at the Huanshan Railway Station to visit Huanshan.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:More than just Terracotta Army & Horses !
  • Cons:Everything is more expensive than other Chinese cities!
  • In a nutshell:Worth travelling far to see this ancient capital of China!
  • Last visit to Xi'an: Oct 2011
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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