city of Xi'an (population 6 million) was the first Chinese city to
open up its doors to the Ancient world, not in 1980 under the
"Open Door" policy but in fact during the Tang dynasty when
Xi'an blossomed as the first stop on the Silk Road.
Over a period of more than 2000 years, Xi'an was the capital for
eleven dynasties. Along with Rome and Constantinople, this city was a
world leader in culture and trade and played a vital role in bridging
the gap between east and west.
Many of the
sites to visit are outside Xi'an and the surrounding countryside
offers a treasure trove of historical and religious relics. The most
famous site is the Terracotta
Army, built to protect the Emperor Qin Shi Huang, whose Mausoleum
lies close the warriors. Both these sights are to the east of Xi'an.
There are other less famous but equally fascinating places worth
visiting too. The Famen
Temple claims to house the Buddha's fingers and still draws crowds
of practicing monks (and tourists) to marvel at the fingers and the
Tang dynasty treasures which are kept here. The countryside around
Xi'an is also attractive and there are numerous mountains, including Mount
Huashan which are a great break from the city.
being a major tourist destination and historical city, today Xi'an is
an important industrial and manufacturing center. Despite the
incredible history that Xi'an carries, it is a modern and prosperous
area. The nightlife here is pretty up to date and Xian's University is
considered to be one of the best in China.
As a result, the city has a
large student population who contribute to the cultural life of the
city, making Xi'an one of the most pleasant cities in China and an
ideal place to break the journey between Beijing and Shanghai.