About place: Xian

Xian is located in the north-east of China and is fairly far from the coast. However, it is one of the most visited places because of its exceptional historical value. Over one thousand years the city was the capital of Chi-nese Empire. There has survived a beautiful Old Town surrounded by strong walls. In the immediate vicinity of Xian one can see the Mausoleum of Emperor Qin Shi Huang (he ruled in 3rd B.C.), guarding the famous Terracotta Army.

Surely, the tomb of emperor is the main sight that you should visit during your trip to Xian. Archaeological excavations are still in progress, but even what you can see now is impressive. Of clay soldiers of Qin Shi Huang were made. The emperor was able to conquer and unite warring kingdoms creating the Middle Kingdom.

It is believed that the emperor's army located near his tomb has more than 8000 warriors, but only about 6000 warriors were still found. In three tents one can see the second column that was completely digged out, and the General Staff. And it seems that the clay figures were exact replicas of real warriors judging by their faces and clothes.

The tomb itself is also impressive. It is considered to be the biggest burial complex in the world. The internal sanctuary is 2.5 km in circumference, and the external sanctuary is 6 km in circumference. Even today the sur-viving mound reaches the height of about 40 meters, and at the time of burial it was 120 meters high.

Apart from the Terracotta Army, or the "Terra Cotta Warriors and Horses", it would be interesting to see the historical center of Xian. There survived strong city walls until nowadays. The walls were erected in 14th century. Although they reach the height of 12 meters, their width is just impressive. The walls are about 18 meters wide at the base, and 12 meters wide at the top.

The walled Old Town has the shape of a right rectangle. Total length of walls is over 12 km. On all four sides of the Old Town there are gates aligned by the four corners of the earth, with watch towers built on the corners of the rectangle. The walls are surrounded by a wide moat.

There are two towers in the center of Old Town, closer to the southern gate. They are Bell Tower (1384) and Drum Tower (1380). The bells were ringed when the gate was opening, and drums were beat when the gate was closing. This rule has been observed in Xian for many centuries.

As to the other sights, you may visit the Muslim Quarter. There located the Great Mosque, which was con-structed in 742, a bit earlier than the first mosques of the Holy Land. Near the southern gate there is also a singu-lar museum called the «Stele Forest». There have been gathered over 2300 steles with sayings of Confucius.

Near the eastern gate there located the Giant Wild Goose Pagoda built in 647. There were kept ancient manu-scripts. Not far from the pagoda there is a beautiful Lotus Park of Tang Dynasty. Also it will be very interesting to visit the Neolithic village Banpo. It may give you some idea of how people lived under matriarchy in the stone age (about 5 000 years ago).

During your visit to Xian you shouldn’t forget to enjoy the magnificent view of Huashan Mountain. By all means you have to see it. Huashan, one of the five sacred mountains of Daoism (philosophy school founded by Lao Zi), is 120 kilometers of the city of Xian.

The height of the mountain is 2200 meters, and tourists have to climb the mind-bending path to get atop the mountain. This 14-kilometer path is very narrow, and in places fairly risky. However, the trail is quite accessible even to untrained people, but it is really difficult. And you must be aware of it before you go there. In certain sections, for example the edge of the Green Dragon, there will be deep precipices of several hundred meters on both sides of the trail. But you will never forget the views that you may see there.

The optimum alternative for those who are afraid of sheer paths would be to ascend the northern peak by the funicular, and the other summits – by the other less steep paths. The paths interconnecting the summits are absolutely safe, even for untrained people. If you want to meet the dawn, you will have to stay at one of the mountain hotels, if you don’t want to, then you may descend by the cable railway.

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