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Ah, Xian. It’s a tricky one we know, but go with the pronunciation “see-an” and you’ll have hit the nail on the head. Well, as far as the name is concerned at least. But there’s more to this intriguing city than its slippery name. Drenched in Silk Road history and known for being one of the country’s most significant ex imperial capitals, a trip to Xian makes for a fascinating walk down China’s memory lane. From the Terracotta Army to the Giant Wild Goose Pagoda – amidst Xian’s city smog, a whole host of ancient world wonders await.
The whole city is sat upon an ancient site and it’s even home to China’s oldest and most well-preserved city walls. Built during the Ming Dynasty in 1370, these 12 metre high walls stretch for 8.5 miles and are surrounded by a sizable dry moat. You know, just in case. For the culture vultures this is great evidence of Xian’s glory days, but for those who are more interested in the here and now, the walls make for the perfect elevation from which to admire the city’s melting pot mishmash of old and new.
And it’s not just this traditional versus contemporary jumble that makes Xian a melting point, but its historical status as the start of the Silk Road. A trade that brought many from the middle east, this period’s influence upon the city is one that is still very much alive today. From the sights, sounds and smells of the Muslim Quarter to the islamic influences that pepper the architecture, reminders of Xian’s exotic past are never far away. This multicultural city will make a difference from the more rigidly classical Chinese cities that you’ll find inundating this corner of the world – you could say that it’s a breath of fresh air, but then again, the infamous city pollution may just put a stop to that.
Xian will sate the appetite of even the most ardent culture vulture. Homing the the best archaeological find of the 20th century – the Terracotta Army – and spilling out from its ancient city walls, in this destination you’ll get a glance of China’s past whilst being ever reminded of its modern present.
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One of the most influential Buddhist sites in Xian and an icon of this ancient city, the Giant Wild Goose Pagoda is a must-see sight. Originally built in the year 652 in order to study Buddhist scriptures, the pagoda now stands at 64.5 meters tall and is a total of seven storeys high, housing beautiful stone detail and cultural relics from its base right through to its body.Discover more
Often thought to be mere fiction, the Terracotta Army may not be as fantastically formidable as they’re portrayed in The Mummy, but they’re certainly a frozen force to be reckoned with. Dubbed the best archaeological find of the 20th century, the thousands of figures that make up this 2,200 year old clay army now provides one of our greatest insights into ancient china.Discover more
It’s in Xian that you’ll find a more exotic fusion of cultures than anywhere else in China and as the home to some of the country’s biggest cultural landmarks, it’s one not to miss. Desperate to know more? Have a read of our blogs, to get all the inside know-how.
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