f you haven’t been to Xi’an, you’re missing out on a lot. It is the most selected city on the China city tour list just after Beijing. “Xi’an” in Chinese literally means “Peace in the West.” It is previously known as “Chang An” (Perpetual Peace), which is an ancient capital city of some of the most important dynasties in Chinese history such as the Zhou, Qin, Han, Sui, and Tang dynasties.
A lot of tourists that are immersed in the Chinese culture see Xi’an as a haven since they believe that this city has a more “authentic” Chinese vibe than other metropolitan cities such as Beijing or Shanghai. With this, if you are interested in learning more about the Chinese culture, here are nine places you must visit if you have the opportunity to visit Xi’an:
1) Terracotta Warriors and Horse Museum
Photo courtesy of Top China Travel
Perhaps this is the most popular place to visit in Xi’an. The place was founded by a local farmer who was digging a well in 1974. Today, it is the most prominent attraction in Xi’an.
2) Xi’an City Wall
Photo courtesy of Visit Our China
Did you know that this is the largest ancient military defensive system in the world? It is the most complete city wall that has survived centuries of wars and calamities. It was initially built in the Tang Dynasty (618-907) and was enlarged during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). Today, it is 12 meters tall and 12-14 meters wide, covering 14 kilometers in length with a deep moat surrounding it. You can walk or even ride a bicycle around the wall while exploring its beauty. You’ll find most tourists at the south gate of the Xi’an City Wall as it is the largest with an impressive suspension bridge.
3) Xian Muslim Quarter and the Great Mosque
Photo courtesy of The Islamic Monthly
The Xian Muslim Quarters is located just behind the Drum Tower. You can see the famous Great Mosque which is one of the oldest, largest and best-preserved Islamic mosques in China. Unlike most mosques in Middle Eastern or Arab countries, the Great Mosque of Xi’an looks very Chinese in its construction and architectural style, except for some Arabic lettering and decorations. According to some tourists, the bazaar in the Muslim area is the best with small stalls selling things for a very cheap price. There, you may even discover some unusual items that you probably won’t see anywhere else in China. Aside from the stalls, the streets and walkways look lively that would make you want to stay there.
4) Bell & Drum Towers
Photo courtesy of Creative Travel Guide
Originating from the Ming Dynasty, each city has a bell tower and a drum tower. The bell was sounded every dawn and the drum every dusk in each day during the ancient times. It was used as means of telling time and incoming alerts. The Bell Tower and Drum Tower of Xi’an dates back to the Ming dynasty (1368-1644). Try to visit the topmost floor of the Bell Tower to have a panoramic view of the city.
5) Forest of Stone Steles
Photo courtesy of Travel China With Me
Xi’an’s Forest of Stone Tablets was originally built in 1087. The Forest of Stone Steles in Xi’an houses a big collection of steles in China. It has a classic courtyard look at the site of the former Confucian Temple in Sanxue Street. The 30,000-sqm museum is one of the centers of ancient Chinese stone-engraving classics. It is also the center of notable calligraphers of the past dynasties. The numerous standing steles look very similar to a forest, hence the name “Forest of Steles.” Since it is over 900 years in age, it is a well known gem for the Xi’an locals.
6) Hanyang Tombs
Photo courtesy of Visit Our China
Hanyang Tombs is famous for its rich collection of the terracotta figurines and animals. The items in the exhibition halls are artifacts from the surroundings of the main tomb of Emperor Jing, the fourth emperor of the Han Dynasty. Locals consider the Hanyang Tombs to be a hidden gem of the city.
7) Shaanxi Provincial History Museum
Photo courtesy of China Tours
This museum houses several well-preserved artifacts that are important in the Chinese history. Here, you’d be able to see well-preserved terracotta warriors and horses, as well as many other exhibits like bronzes, ceramics, construction materials, Han and Tang bronze mirrors, coins and currency, calligraphy, rubbings, scrolls and so much more.
8) Big Goose Pagoda
Photo courtesy of Chuyu from Getty Images
Originally built during the Tang Dynasty (618-907), today, it is a holy place that is in the middle of a vibrant and modern growing city. If you’re learning about the influence of China’s Buddhism and culture, this place is for you. It is a very active Buddhist temple with monks chanting, working, and living there. Locals visit the place to worship and burn joss sticks.
9) Huaqing Hot Spring
Photo courtesy of Klook
Tourists usually visit Huaqing Hot Spring after exploring the Terracotta Warriors and Horse Museum. This hot spring is famous for its spring scenery and the love story of Emperor Xuanzong (685-762) and his concubine Yang Guifei during the Tang Dynasty (618-907).