Need vacation ideas? Be sure to consider the wonders of China!

Whether you’re a history enthusiast or just looking to take a quick dip into ancient Chinese culture, take time in China to add Xi’an to your itinerary. Dating back to 1100 BC, Xi’an is one of China’s oldest cities, offering immense history and culture.

Big Wild Goose Pagoda
Big Wild Goose Pagoda

First stop is the Big Wild Goose Pagoda to soak in some tranquility. The photo may look crooked, but it’s actually the tower that’s tilted! I’d say it’s not too shabby though, considering it was completed in 652 and has survived (though not completely unscathed) a major earthquake!

Guardian lion statues symbolize protection
Guardian lion statues symbolize protection

If you’ve walked the streets of any North American Chinatown, you’ve probably seen guardian lion statues before. They simply represent protection. The lions typically stand at the entrance of palaces, places of worship. Though you’d think the lions would be used to protect the home, this is uncommon, as they were historically reserved for royalty or other entities that were deemed worthy.

Candles at a Buddhist temple
Candles at a Buddhist temple

As a functional Buddhist temple, visitors are welcome to light a candle and hang their prayers, written on a wooden board.

Protective wall at Great Wall of China
Protective wall at Great Wall of China

Another important part of Chinese historical architecture, are walls! In addition to the famous Great Wall of China, walls are an integral part of city development, used to protect rulers and citizens from invaders. The building seen here is found on top of a city wall, used for storage and shelter.

China’s soldiers would be stationed on walls to defend their cities, using weapons like catapults and bows and arrows.
China’s soldiers would be stationed on walls to defend their cities, using weapons like catapults and bows and arrows.

In the middle of the wall, a square yard was used to trap invaders who got beyond the first gate. Aside from the practicality of the space, the most interesting part is the single tree in the yard; it symbolizes trapping enemies! How? It’s another example of the culture’s obsession with word play. The Chinese character for “trapped” is written: 困. Broken down, it’s a square (meaning “mouth” or “opening”) with the character “tree” or “wood” in the middle.

Terracotta Warrior,  Xi'an
Terracotta Warrior

Also located in Xi’an, China, is the necropolis of the first Emperor, where the world famous terracotta warriors can be seen. Check out the details of this archer statue. Even the bottom of his shoe is meticulously finished. It blows my mind that there are over 8,000 figures buried with the Emperor, not to mention the hundreds of horses and chariots!

Tomb of Emperor Jingdi
Tomb of Emperor Jingdi

Perhaps the most underrated site in Xi’an is the tomb of Emperor Jingdi. As a much more humble ruler, his tomb is not as excessive as the first Emperor’s. The tomb is surrounded by an underground city of mini statues of warriors, livestock, tools and farmers. Be sure to add this site to your trip planning!

Chinese artifacts made visible to the public
Artifacts made visible to the public

Found later than the original terracotta warriors, excavation and preservation techniques are drastically more advanced at this site. A clear, Plexiglas walkway is suspended above the trenches, allowing visitors to view the artifacts up close, without disturbing the site.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this tour of Xi’an, China. Need more vacation ideas? Check out my first blog post on Suzhou and Wuxi too!

Happy travels,

Liz

Liz, Travel Blogger, TuGo Canada

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Xi’an, China Offers History and Culture Galore

Oct 1 2015