A fascinating city with an existence in excess of 3,000 years, over 1,000 of which saw the city serving as capital to 13 dynasties, Xi’an is one of Asia’s most historically significant cities.
Recognised as one of the birthplaces of the ancient Chinese civilisation, 73 emperors have ruled from the city of Xi’an, which served as the first of China’s four great ancient capitals. Known in ancient times as Chang’an, the city also functioned as the eastern terminus of the Silk Road, giving China a prosperous link to the west and transforming the city into a significant trading hub.
While Chang’an’s heyday under the Tang dynasty ceased in the 10th century, there are still numerous signs of this bygone prosperous age to be discovered throughout the city. The city walls, which are the largest in the world, were originally built by the Tang dynasty, and their foundations serve the current walls which were constructed by the Ming dynasty. Many other impressive landmarks symbolise the city’s affluent past, including the iconic Big Wild Goose Pagoda, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the Bell Towers and Drum Tower which are also credited to the Ming dynasty.
Of course, the city’s most famous attraction is its Terracotta Warriors, a collection of sculptures representing the armies of Qin Shi Huang, the first Emperor of China. Located around 30km from the city, the army is one of the most significant archaeological finds in the world, accidentally discovered by peasant farmers in 1974.
When to go
On the whole, Xi'an is a suitable travel destination throughout the entire year, but there are specific periods when exploring the city is much more pleasant and manageable. The two most rewarding times to visit Xi'an are from March to May, during the pleasant and warm spring season, and from September to November, when autumn brings cooler temperatures and sunny days.
What to do
- Visit the Terracotta Warriors
- Walk the city walls
- Discover the Big Wild Goose Pagoda
- Wander the Muslim Quarter and encounter the Great Mosque