old saying in China tells the unique position of this legendary city: "If
you want to see China of 100 years ago, visit Shanghai; China of 500
years ago, Beijing; China of 2000 years ago, Xi'an". As
the cradle of Chinese culture, the city was capital to the first
dynasty of China, and also many of its successors. The position as the
cultural and political center of the country has left the city with a
great heritage, whose physical and spiritual evidence still dominates
the ancient city.
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
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.
way to see the sights around Xi'an is either to join an organized tour.
On top of
these, the Xi'an
City Defense Wall is the best kept wall in all of China's ancient
cities. The Bell Tower and the Drum
Tower, both typical for China's ancient cities, are also in good
condition, among the bustle of central modern Xi'an.