Children usually tend to believe that the settlement they live in has been there forever and that their parents are immortal. Further on, when growing up, they realize that their village or town is sometimes a little older than an object found on the shelves of an antiquity shop. There are still several settlements for which the past is as mysterious as what will happen next. If Beijing represents China as it is now and Shanghai represents China of tomorrow, Xian city certainly outlines the entire past of China. Renowned for the famous terracotta army, which dates back from the Qin Dynasty, Xian has developed steadily over the past 3100 years to be a beloved gem of modern China.
Xian is the capital city of Shaanxi province in China. It is a modern, yet intriguing city with a great history beyond. It is one of the oldest cities here and one of the four ancient capitals of China, as it has been the capital, although with different names, of some of the most important dynasties among which the Zhou, Han, Qin, Sui and Tang ones. The city has over 3100 years of history and was known as Chang'an (perpetual peace) before the Ming dynasty. The major tourist attractions in the city include: Qin Shi Huang Mausoleum and Terracotta Army, Bell Tower and Drum Tower, Xian's Great Mosque, Hua Mountains, Taibai and Li, Qianling mausoleum, Shaanki History Museum; the temples of Jianfu, Xingjiao, Wolong, Xi Ming and Famen, and many other wonderful places. Xian is a flourishing city. Great efforts are made to build the subway, which will include six lines, that is scheduled to be completed in 2020. Xian has six stations serving more than 80,000 passengers daily. Xian International Airport is the largest in northwest China, with international routes to the major Asian cities: Bangkok, Fukuoka, Hong Kong, Osaka, Pusan, Sapporo, Singapore and Seoul. Xian is also an important IT centre, software exports accounting up to 42 million dollars in 2005. Every year, Xian University prepares highly qualified specialists for the telecommunications industry in China. Thus, Xian is a city definitely worth visiting, one of the most beautiful places in China.
In the spring of 1974, a Chinese farmer discovered on the outskirts of Xian an archeological site with terracotta soldiers. A year later, archaeologists announced that they have discovered three tombs which housed not less than 6,000 clay soldiers. Since then, the number of soldiers has been increasing and the surprises do not seem to stop here. Research has proved that the history of terracotta army begins two millennia ago, between 221-206 BC. The army was built by the order of the first Emperor of Qin Dynasty: Qin Shi Huang, who has been a very cruel king. He used more than 700,000 people and huge amounts of money to build the army and his tomb, which is also massive, and is sheltered under a hill –it is supposed to hide great wealth. In China, however, Emperor Qin Shi Huang is still acknowledged as a king who has made great achievements, although he came to rule when being 13 years old and died at 50. In recent years, the Communist Party has tried to rehabilitate his image, so now suddenly, all guides speak well of this emperor. Qin Shi Huang standardized the currency and measurement units such as liters and kilograms, as well as writing in China. Qin Shi Huang is also the one who unified the seven states that existed by that time in China and formed what we know today as China. In fact the name China comes from his name, too. Besides, Qin Shi Huang unified all Chinese walls and formed a single Great Wall. Terracotta Army is divided into three pits of warriors, one of which is very high and contains about 6,000 soldiers, generals, archers and horses - all of terracotta. Huns are the reason why terracotta army stayed buried for so long, as the Chinese workers have been invaded and killed by the Huns while working on it and the halls were torched. That is why the army of clay soldiers stood hidden until 1974 when the farmer found it and announced the authorities. Now this peasant is a national hero and patron of the museum in Xian. The terracotta army can be truly considered the eighth wonder of the world. It is impressive the fact that none of the soldiers resembles each other. From uniforms to features and facial expressions, from hair, armor, each soldier was singled out. Their common point? They are all human-shaped in size and recreate a real army, from soldiers to generals and from cavalry to fanfare.
Another major symbol of the city is the tower built in 1384. The old part of the city can be easily recognized as it is bordered by well preserved walls that offer it an almost square shape. Xian city walls were erected during the Ming Dynasty in 1370, measuring 12 meters in height, 14 meters in the superior part and 18 metre at its base. Access was made through the 18 gates.
Great Mosque of Xian is one of the oldest, largest and best preserved places of worship throughout China, and was erected in the times when the Chinese architectural elements were synthesized by Islamic religious architecture. This fact explains the resemblance between the mosque and Buddhist temples typical for the fifteenth century.
Shaanxi History Museum is a huge complex which occupies 70,000 sqm, yet insufficiently large to highlight the complete national history of China. Ba Xian An Monastery is located north of Changle Fang Street and is known as the largest Taoist temple in the city. Not less important is the Green Dragon Temple still dominated by Buddhist monks since the Tang Dynasty. About 120 km away from Xian, Hua mountain chain stretches, considered by the Chinese people a sacred orographic unit. Due to the beautiful landscapes that it offers, it has become a must-see place for anyone who dares to know the cultural and natural values of the Xian area.
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