Numerous mounds rise on the plains surrounding the city. They mark the graves of kings and nobles of ancient times, still undisturbed by the archaeologist’s shovel. If you have an interest in ancient tombs, you will be satisfied even with what has already been excavated and is open to the public.
The Terracotta Army is the most famous, but the tomb of Emperor Jing-di is also worthy of getting to it.
Tourist buses to most of the country attractions depart from the square in front of the railway station – the exception is the tomb of Jing-di.
This is not only a business card of Xi’an, but also one of the largest archaeological discoveries in the history of mankind. For 2000 years, a silent army, sculpted from life-size clay, has been guarding the peace of the first ruler who united the Celestial Empire. Emperor Qin Shihuanto was either afraid of the spirits of the other world, or he wanted to rule them as well as people – regardless of the reason, the immortal army he created allows us to see the ancient Chinese with our own eyes.
The terracotta army was discovered completely by accident. In 194, a company of peasants digging a well unearthed the first of thousands of clay figures lined up in battle order. Now the whole world knows this story, as well as the fact that among the many soldiers, no two are the same.
Your impressions will be fuller if you first get acquainted with the history of the creation of the army. If you don’t want to hire a guide or listen to an electronic storyteller, you can watch a museum video that tells about the technique of creating statues. Then go to inspect the excavations in reverse order, leaving the most impressive of them for a snack.
Start with the smallest moat N * 3. in which the figures of 2 warriors and horses are lined up. This is the headquarters of the Terracotta Army, because it is here that the largest number of high-ranking officers are located. The proximity of the underground sanctuary testifies in favor of this statement: there they sacrificed to the gods, begging them to grant victory. Next comes moat No. 2, containing about 1300 warriors and horses. Pay attention to the five figures standing closest to the observation deck – this is a kneeling archer, a standing archer, a horseman with a horse, an officer of medium rank and a general. The elaboration of details is amazing: an unknown sculptor accurately conveyed emotions, reproduced complex hairstyles, armor and even shoe details!
Moat No. 1 is the most grandiose: it is located under a roof that would fit an airbus hangar. It is claimed that 6,000 soldiers and horses serve here. All of them are facing east and ready for battle. The vanguard consists of three ranks of archers armed with both long bows and crossbows. Behind them are lined up the main forces of the army, once armed with pikes, swords, axes, etc. They were covered by 35 wooden chariots. During the time spent in the ground, the tree completely decayed — as well as the shafts of infantry weapons. Only two chariots, made entirely of bronze and located only 20 m to the west of Qin Shihuang’s tomb, have been well preserved. Together with the surviving samples of weapons, they are displayed in a small gallery, to the right of the main entrance.
Binmayun is easily accessible by public transport. In the bus parking lot in front of the main railway station, look for green minibuses or a regular bus number 306. All of them follow with stops at Huaqing hot springs and Qin Shihuang’s tomb. The parking lot, where the final stop of the bus routes is located, is a 15-minute walk from the entrance to the museum — it’s a pleasant walk, but you can use an electric car for Y5. On the opposite side of the parking lot there are restaurants where you can have lunch.
The emperors of the Tang dynasty loved to relax here in the company of their concubines.
Groups of Chinese tourists make a mandatory stop in Huatsinchi for filming against the backdrop of brand-new pavilions and mosaic pools. The place is pleasant, but not so much to give such money for a ticket. You can also take a walk towards the Taoist temple on Black Horse Mountain. The temple is dedicated to Nyuva, the ancient goddess who sealed the cracks in the firmament and created the human race from clay. There is a cable car, but its station is located outside Huatsinchi Park: they will only let you back with a new ticket.
Qin Shihuang’s Tomb
At one time, the burial of the emperor was undoubtedly one of the most grandiose mausoleums on this planet.
Ancient authors describe Qin Shi Huang’s afterlife possessions as an underground estate with palaces made of precious stones, rivers of mercury and ingenious traps for robbers. It is also believed that 00,000 people worked on the construction of the tomb for 38 years. According to legend, all the architects and craftsmen were buried alive together with the emperor and took the secrets of the structure underground. The tomb is considered too dangerous for excavation. There is nothing to see from the outside, but a beautiful view opens from the top of the mound. The tomb is located 2 km west of the Terracotta Army Museum. You can get from the main railway station of Xi’an by bus No. 306.
Neolithic settlement of Banpo
In the history of Chinese archaeology, the name of this village is inscribed in golden letters, but if you are not an expert and not a fan, do not expect rich impressions.
Banpo is considered the oldest monument of the Neolithic culture of Yangshao. Ancient people lived on this site from 4500 BC to 350 BC. Scientists have excavated a working area with potters’ workshops, a residential quarter surrounded by a moat, as well as a cemetery. There are two exhibition halls representing the ceramics of Banpo – pay attention to the amphorae of bizarre shape.
The village lies in the eastern suburbs of Xi’an. A visit to the village is often included in the program of excursions. You can get there on your own by bus No. 105, which departs from the main railway station and passes by: ask the driver to slow down.
Tomb of Emperor Jing-di
This tomb is also called the Hanjiang Mausoleum, the Liu Qi Mausoleum and the Yangling Mausoleum. This is the most underrated of the Xi’an attractions: if you only have time for two historical monuments, then the first should be the Terracotta Army, and the second is this grand tomb with a museum. At the same time, unlike the Army, the grave of Jing-di is little visited by tourists, and no one will interfere with your visit.
This monastery was founded in the II century BC for the sake of storing the only jewel – the finger of the Buddha, donated by the Indian king Ashoka. In 1981, heavy rains washed away the masonry of the 12-tier brick pagoda, and part of its western wall collapsed. The restoration led to a sensational discovery: a cache of temple utensils and royal gifts was found at the base of the tower, more than 1,000 items in total.
Taking care of their income, the local authorities are engaged in the expansion of the popular temple. You can join the numerous pilgrims rushing to worship the Buddha’s Finger, but the main thing here is a museum with a collection of Tang antiquities. What is on display in the monastery outshines even the treasures of the Shaanxi History Museum. What are a set of gold and silver caskets of different sizes that make up a pagoda, or caskets made of jade and rock crystal, in which the Buddha’s finger was kept!
Among other exhibits are painted censers, bowls and vases of ancient Roman glass, gold and silver jewelry, as well as a model of a four—chamber treasury in the section – it repeats the outlines of a tantric mandala.