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About Xi'an

Introduction

Xi'an, the eternal city, records the great changes of the Chinese nation just like a living history book. Called Chang'an in ancient times, Xi'an is one of the birthplaces of the ancient civilization in the Yellow River Basin area of the country. During Xi'an's 3,100 year development, 13 dynasties such as Zhou, Qin, Han and Tang placed their capitals here. So far, Xi'an enjoys equal fame with Athens, CThe position of XI'ANairo, and Rome as one of the four major ancient civilization capitals.

Xi'an is the capital of Shaanxi province, located in the southern part of the GuanZhong Plain. With the Qinling Mountains to the north and the Weihe River to the south, it is in a favorable geographical location surrounded by water and hills. It has a semi-moist monsoon climate and there is a clear distinction between the four seasons. Except the colder winter, any season is relatively suitable for traveling.

The cultural and historical significance of the area, as well as the abundant relics and sites, help Xi'an enjoy the laudatory title of "Natural History Museum". The Museum of Terra Cotta Warriors and Horses is praised as "the eighth major miracle of the world", Mausoleum of Emperor Qin Shi Huang is listed on the World Heritage List, and the City Wall of the Ming Dynasty is the largest and most intact Ming Dynasty castle in the world. In the city, there is the 3000 year old Banpo Village Remains from the Neolithic Age, and the Forest of Stone Steles that holds 3,000 stone steles of different periods from the Han Dynasty to the Qing Dynasty. Around Xi'an, the Famen Temple enjoys the reputation of being the "forefather of pagodas and temples in Central Shaanxi," because it holds the finger bones of Sakyamuni--the founder of Buddhism. The natural landscape around Xian is also marvelous. Mt. Huashan, as one of the five best-known mountains in China, is famous for its breath-taking cliffs and its unique characteristics.

As tourist development grows in Xi'an, the hotel industry flourishes more and more. It is very easy to find a hotel in Xi'an, ranging from 5 star hotels to youth hostels. Of course, it will be any traveler's first choice to stay in the city center due to the superior geographical location and the convenient transportation.

Praised as "the capital of table delicacies", Xi'an has been rich in the delicious Shaanxi snack, delicate Guangdong Cuisine, various kinds of fashionable foreign delicacies, and popular Sichuan Cuisine such as the hot pot. Among all the delicacies, the most famous and popular one is the Muslim Snack Street.

Xi'an is the most important city in northwest China, and so there are a lot of shopping outlets for locals and tourists alike. There are many big shopping centers, department stores and supermarkets in and around Xian city - the biggest and most comprehensive being Kai Yuan Shopping Mall and Century Ginwa Shopping Mall.

The night life in Xian has a unique glamour. Traditional ways include enjoying the night scenery around the Bell Tower, taking part in a Tang Dynasty Dinner Show, strolling on the ancient Big Wild Goose Pagoda Square and watching the music fountain performance. More modern and fashionable ways include singing in the KTV, hanging out in a bar, or dancing in a Disco. All in all, any experience in this ancient city will bring you fun and possibly a little surprise!

Xi'an Attractions

The well-known Terra-cotta Museum is located east of Emperor Qin's Mausoleum, which covers a total area of 20 hectares. The museum is decorated with verdant trees?blooming flowers and carpets of green grass. The scenery in the museum looks quite elegant and delightful. Three main buildings of the museum, which were named Pit 1,Pit 2, Pit 3, were constructed on their original sites in different periods of time.

 

Emperor Qin's Terra-cotta Museum is not only a treasure house where the tourists can learn history, culture and human civilization, but also a main scenic spot of Xi'an city. It can receive about 1.5 million tourists annually. Approximately 40 million visitors from home and abroad have visited the Museum within the last 20 years. Today "the eighth Wonder of the world" has almost become synonym of the Terra-cotta Warriors and Horses In 1987, the Emperor Qin's Mausoleum was put on the list of the UNESCO as a world-class cultural heritage site. Now the Museum is well-known widely as a huge modern on-site museum and it is going to be one of the best in the world.

Terra-cotta Warriors and Horses
Bell Tower (Zhong Lou)
Bell Tower
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.
Bell Tower night view

City Wall

City Wall
When Zhu Yuanzhang, the first Emperor of the Ming dynasty (1368-1644), captured Huizhou, a hermit named Zhu Sheng admonished him that he should "built high walls, store abundant food supplies and take time to be an Emperor," so that he could fortify the city and unify the other states. After the establishment of the Ming dynasty, Zhu Yuanzhang followed his advice and began to enlarge the wall built initially during the old Tang dynasty (618 -907), creating the modern Xian City Wall. It's the most complete city wall that has survived in China, as well being one of the largest ancient military defensive systems in the world.

After the extension, the wall now stands 12 meters (40 feet) tall, 12-14 meters (40-46 feet) wide at the top and 15-18 meters (50-60 feet) thick at the bottom. It covers 13.7 kilometers (8.5 miles) in length with a deep moat surrounding it.

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. Besides, 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 the side. On the outer side of the city wall, there are 5948 crenellations, 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.
City Wall

Big Wild Goose Pagoda

Big Wild Goose Pagoda

As the symbol of the old-line Xian, Big Wild Goose Pagoda is a well-preserved ancient building and a holy place for Buddhists. It is located in the southern suburb of Xian City, about 4 kilometers (2.49 miles) from the downtown of the city. Standing in the Da Ci'en Temple complex, it attracts numerous visitors for its fame in the Buddhist religion, its simple but appealing style of construction, and its new square in front of the temple. It is rated as a National Key Cultural Relic Preserve as well as an AAAA Tourist Attraction.This attraction can be divided into three parts: the Big Wild Goose Pagoda, the Da Ci'en Temple, and the North Square of Big Wild Goose Pagoda.

North Square of Big Wild Goose Pagoda

Forest of Stone Steles

Forest of Stone Steles
Once the site of the Temple of Confucius during the Northern Song dynasty (960--1127), the Forest of Stone Steles Museum is situated on Sanxue Street, near the south gate of Xian City Wall. It was initially established in AD 1087 when some precious stone steles were moved here for safe keeping, including the "Classic on Filial Piety" written by Emperor Xuanzong in AD 745 and "the Kaicheng Stone Steles" arved in AD 837. With an area of 31,000 square meters, the Forest of Stone Steles used to be the principal museum for Shaanxi Province since 1944. Then because of the large number of stone steles, it was officially named as the Forest of Stone Steles Museum in 1992.
Forest of Stone Steles Museum

Famen Temple

Famen Temple
In China, many temples house treasures and artifacts, but the sheer quantity and quality of treasures in the Famen Temple is rare. Situated in Famen Town of Fufeng County, about 120 kilometers (about 74.57 miles) west of Xian, Famen Temple is renowned for storing the veritable four slivers of the finger bone of the Sakyamuni Buddha. Famen Temple was established in the Eastern Han Dynasty (25--220), for carrying forward Buddhism. The most representative structures in the temple are the Famen Temple Pagoda and Famen Temple Museum.
the finger bone of the Sakyamuni Buddha

 

Mt. Huashan

As one of the five best-known mountains in China, Mt. Huashan is located to the south of Huayin city, 120 kilometers east of Xian, in Shaanxi province, with an elevation of 2200 meters above sea level. In ancient times, Mt. Huashan was called Mt. Taihuashan. Seen from afar, the five peaks looks like five petals of a flower. Hence its name, Mt. Huashan (= five flowers). Today, it is listed as one of the renowned national scenic spots

Mt. Huashan

Mt. Huashan
   

Huaqing Hot Springs

Situated at the northern foot of Mt. Lishan in Lintong County, 30 kilometers (18.6 miles) from Xian City, Huaqing Hot Spring is famed for both its dainty spring scenery and the romantic love story of Emperor Xuanzong (685-762) and his concubine Yang Guifei in the Tang Dynasty (618-907). Its long history and location among the wonderful landscapes of Xian should entice any visitor to visit and bathe in this hot spring.It is said that King You built a palace here during the Western Zhou Dynasty (11th century BC-711 BC). Additions were subsequently made by the First Emperor Qing (259 BC-210BC) and Emperor Wu during the Western Han Dynasty (206 BC-24).

Yang Guifei in the Tang Dynasty (618-907)
Huaqing Hot Springs
During his reign, the Emperor Xuanzong spent dizzying amounts of his funds to build a luxurious palace, changing its name to Huaqing Hot Spring or Huaqing Palace. Over the course of 41 years in his days, he visited the palace as many as 36 times. The palace thus has a history of 3,000 years and the hotspring a history of 6,000 years! Ranked among the Hundred Famous Garden in China, it is also has the status as a National Cultural Relic Protection Unit and a National Key Scenic Area.


Tang Paradise

Near the Big Wild Goose Pagoda , Tang Paradise is located in the Qujiang Resort, southeast of the Xian City, Shaanxi Province. It is a newly opened tourist attraction in April, 2005. Tang Paradise covers a total area of 1000 mu (about 165 acres) and of which 300 mu (about 49 acres) is water. This tourist attraction not only claims to be the biggest cultural theme park in the northwest region of China but also the first royal-garden-like park to give a full display of the Tang Dynasty's (618-907) culture.Altogether, twelve scenic regions are distributed throughout Tang Paradise to provide visitors with the enjoyment of twelve cultural themes and a perfect exhibition of the grandness, prosperity and brilliance of the culture of the Tang Dynasty.
Tang Paradise
Tang Paradise
What makes Tang Paradise incredible is that it is no longer the garden mode of only water and mountains in the Chinese traditional sense. The outstanding designers of the magnificent Tang Paradise have integrated almost everything representative of the Tang Dynasty, such as the poetry, the songs and dance, the marketplaces, the food, the women's lifestyles, and science into every site using cultural themes, thus endowing every place with its own story and its own place in the tapestry of Tang Dynasty culture.

Additional attractions are:

Small Wild Goose Pagoda

Small Wild Goose Pagoda

 

Qian Mausoleum (Qian Ling)

Qian Mausoleum (Qian Ling)

 

Shaanxi Provincial History Museum

Shaanxi Provincial History Museum

Banpo Village Remains

Banpo Village Remains

 

Drum Tower

 

Mausoleum of Western Han Emperor Liu Qi (Hanyangling)

Drum Tower

Mausoleum of Western Han Emperor Liu Qi (Hanyangling)

 

Huangdi Mausoleum Scenic Spot

Huangdi Mausoleum Scenic Spot

 

Hukou Waterfalls (Kettle Spout Falls)

Hukou Waterfalls (Kettle Spout Falls)

Dining of Xian

Xian is legendary as "the capital of table delicacies." The ancient city is famous for the delicious Shaanxi snack, the delicate Guangdong cuisine, various kinds of fashionable foreign delicacies, and the popular Sichuan cuisine, such as hot pot.

Local Food
A close look at Yang Rou Pao Mo, Xian, Shaanxi Visitors to Xian must do two things: one is to see the clay figures of terra cotta warriors and horses. The other is to taste
Yang Rou Pao Mo (a soup dish that involves breaking wheat flour flat bread into a bowl and adding a delicious mutton stock). Before dinner, you will be served one or two pieces of wheat flour flat bread which you into tiny chunks, the smaller the better. The waiter or the waitress will then hand your bowl to the cook who mixes the bread and mutton soup with an appropriate relish. When the steaming hot meal is brought in, the waiter will also offer you sweet crisp pickled garlic, coriander, and hot pepper sauce. The most famous, the Tong Sheng Xiang (Prosperity and Fortune) Beef and Lamb Paomo Restaurant done in Tang Dynasty style, is a time-honored establishment in the Xian Bell and Drum Tower Square.

More than 20 types of mouth-watering dumplings at the Dumpling Banquet, Xian, ShaanxiNext to Tong Sheng Xiang is a great restaurant, De Fa Chang Dumpling Restaurant, with its own version of the Dumpling Banquet. Ingredients for the dumpling fillings include various meats, vegetables, and seasonings. Cooking methods include steaming, boiling, pan-frying, deep frying, and roasting. Many flavors, including salty, sweet, hot, and sour are offered. Other house specialties include Peking dumplings, steamed sweet bean paste buns, steamed shrimp paste buns, and various uniquely spiced dishes. While guests sample various delicacies, traditionally waiters will explain the cuisine culture of each dumpling.

One of Xian's most famous specialties is the Guan Tang Baozi (steamed buns served with sauces inside) served at Jia Brothers' Restaurant in Muslim Snack Street. You'll know you're there when you see the monstrous blue arch over the entrance and a wall festooned with photographs of Xian notables -- TV hosts, writers, and musicians. The specialty dish is Guan Tang Bao Zi, with a choice of beef, lamb or "three flavors" -- lamb, mushroom, and prawns. The buns have piping-hot soup inside, so caution is advised. This dish is best washed down with Ba Bao Xi Fan, a bowl of sweet rice porridge filled with peanuts, sultanas, hawthorn, and medlar berries.

Fanji is the famous vendor of Shaanxi's most widely consumed snack, Rou Jia Mo, finely chopped pork stuffed in toasted wheat flour flat bread. A piece of good-quality (youzhi) bread and a bowl of mung bean flour soup will cost you no more than RMB10. The state-run atmosphere is quaint and friendly, and the numerous awards that decorate the walls are well deserved. The restaurant is in a lane opposite the Drum Tower, south of West Main Street.

A fascinating lure for food buffs is Local Snacks Street (Hui Min Jie) near Drum Tower in Muslim Square. On the two sides of the 500-meter street, there are many restaurants of different cuisines along with unique snack shops. While enjoying true Muslim cuisine, tourists can learn customs of the Hui people.

Besides guan tang baozi in Jia Brothers' Restaurant, there is barbeque in the Pingwa Kaorou Shop, sour cabbage and beef fried rice in Honghong Suancai Chaomi Restraunt, and beef noodles in Yifenli Restaurant. Other offerings, including fried persimmon cake (shi zi bing), fried dumpling (guo tie), stir-fried bean jelly (chao liang fen), chopped mutton fried in a wok with fine-ground wheat (fen zheng rou), and beef and vegetable pie (xian bing) are available on both sides of the street.

If you would like to taste all the local food at one time in a budget meal, Xian Restaurant (Xian Fan Zhuang) offers more than 100 varieties in its first-floor self-service restaurant. It charges only RMB18 per person, and is very popular with visitors.
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As the center of northwest China, Xi'an provides a wide range of table delicacies in addition to local and traditional cuisine.

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