Xi'an, The Ancient Capital

Trip Start Apr 26, 2011
Trip End Aug 02, 2011

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Flag of China  , Shaanxi,
Friday, May 20, 2011

Xi'an ("Western Peace" in Mandarin) is located in central Northwest China and has a history of 3,100 years, making it one of the oldest cities in China.  Xi'an is the eastern terminus of the Silk Road and home to the Terra Cotta Army.

China was first unified under the Qin Dynasty, which ruled from 221-206 BC.  The first emperor of a united China was Qin Shi Huang.  It was he who ordered the construction of the Terra Cotta Army for his tomb, which is located a few miles outside of the modern city.  It is said to have taken 700,000 workers more than 38 years to build.  The tomb itself remains unopened due to concerns about properly preserving the site.

You'll see a number of photos of the terra cotta soldiers.  The figures, dating from 210 BC, were discovered in 1974 by some local farmers as they were digging a wellThe figures vary in height according to their roles, with the tallest being the generals. The figures include warriors, chariots, horses, acrobats, strongmen and musicians. Current estimates
are that there are over 8,000 soldiers, 130 chariots with 520 horses and 150 cavalry
horses, the majority of which are still buried in the 3 pits at the site.  It is believed that each figure has a unique face.

The original Xi'an city wall was built in 190 BC.  The wall you'll see in the pictures was built in 1370, during the Ming Dynasty and was heavily restored in the 1980s.  The circular wall measures more than 6 miles in circumference, 40 feet in height and is nearly 60 feet thick at the base.  A moat was dug just outside the wall.

This wall is one of the few "old" things left of this ancient city. No houses, schools, libraries, hospitals or other public buildings built before the 20th century survive. Indeed, very
few date from before the foundation of the People's Republic in 1949.  There are a few exceptions, such as the Great Wild Goose Pagoda which dates from 652 AD and is 210 feet high.  The Buddhist temple of the Great Maternal Grace surrounds the base of the pagoda, which was built to house copies of Buddhist holy texts carried from India.  The Bell Tower (1384 AD) and the Drum Tower (1380 AD), located in the city center, also date to the Ming Dynasty.

The terra cotta army was a sight to see.  I had expected to see more ancient buildings in this city, but they just aren't there any more.  It seems that progress trumps history in the Communist mindset.
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Mom on

Absolutely wonderful pictures, again. I hope I can print some of these. You'll have to show me how when you get home. I really liked the slice of life pics, the guy picking up the bicycles. The topiary of ladies' things was interesting. The shoe looked liked suede and pretty comfortable looking. I loved the picture of you and Frank on the chariot. The colors are beautiful. I think Aunt Leigh caught you on the one with your arm around the soldier. You know, I actually believed you were touching one but I couldn't figure out why they would let you do that. Then I thought, hey, that's Matt, going where he shouldn't to get the pic.....remember the Cliffs of Mohr? But I have to go along with Aunt Leigh.

Again, an interesting post.

matthewpowers on

Of course they're reproductions! Almost convincing, though!

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