Lonely Planet calls Xi’an’s fabled past a double-edged sword. Fitting for a city whose main source of interest lies in tens of thousands of ancient stone warriors. Yes, the city of the Terracotta warriors from the Qin dynasty is what everyone wants to see, but little does everyone know, there’s more to proud Xi’an than just stone men.
As the symbol of the old line Xian, the Big Wild Goose Pagoda is your perfect first stop in the city, to see the ancient building and holy place for many Buddhists. Built in 652AD, the building is now over 210 feet, and ideal if you can climb the many winding stairs inside to look over the beautiful and peaceful city. And if you’re feeling adventurous find a trustworthy local to tell you why they believe the building has its unique name!
Next stop is Xi’an’s symbolic Bell Tower, built in the Ming dynasty of 1384, this is the grandest of its kind in the whole of China! Towering close to 130 feet, with huge bronze bells, the building covers over 1350 square metres and is surrounded by legend. One such tale regards a vast dragon that lived in the river stretching through the city and caused many earthquakes. They say that hundreds of blacksmiths and builders worked day and night to chain this dragon and keep him secure under the Bell Tower. From that day, Xi’an has never experienced an earthquake.
To the northwest of the Big Wild Goose Pagoda lies one of the largest history museums in China. Shaanxi History Museum houses over 370,000 relics, including many intricate statues, coins, pieces of armour, paintings and more. The museum gives away 4000 free tickets a day, but make sure to take your passport as they use this to register tickets for those overseas!
Of course, China’s wall is just so great it can’t help but be mentioned twice. Though Xi’an doesn’t highlight how close it is to the Great Wall of China, you can still visit the ruins, enjoying walk on or alongside it. Some parts of the wall are in disrepair as this area hasn’t been specifically designed for intrepid world explorers, so watch your step if you’re keen to risk the walk on top. Wherever you are in China, seeing the Great Wall by night is a unique experience that leaves you feeling calm and at peace.
If this peaked your interest, why not check out our deal of the week, which includes a 3 night stay in Xi’an with a guided day tour to visit the impressive Terracotta Warriors.