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Xian City Guide

Xian Bell Tower Scenic Spot
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Xian, historically named Changan, is the largest city of northwest China and one of the world’s four top ancient capitals of humankind. Xian is the No.1 capital of ancient China due to its longest history, largest influence, and its status as the cradle of Chinese civilization and the representative of Chinese culture. Xian is a world-class metropolis for thousands of years as the capital of Qin Empire, Han Empire and Tang Empire, when the power of ancient China was at the peak time.

Xian History

xian terracotta warriors and horses
Terracotta Warriors and Horses
Xian has a history of more than 3100 years as a city and more than 1200 years as a capital of China. It is one of the origins of Chinese civilization, and has two famous sites revealing the history of this region: Ape-man Site in Lantian and Neolithic Residents of Banpo. Approximately, in century 11BC, King Wenwang of Zhou established two centers – Feng and Hao, which were considered as the start of the glory of Xian in history. From then on, Xian served as the capital of thirteen dynasties: West Zhou Dynasty, Qin Dynasty, West Han Dynasty, Xin Period, East Han Dynasty, West Jin Dynasty, Former Zhao Dynasty, Former Qin Dynasty, Post-Qin Dynasty, West Wei Dynasty, North Zhou Dynasty, Sui Dynasty and Tang Dynasty. In Ming Dynasty, it was officially named Xian. In 1928, Xian was set up as a city. In 1981, UNESCO wrote Xian into the list of World-Famous Historic City. Xian also is an important center of the ancient Silk Road and currently famous as the site of Emperor Qinshihuang’s Terracotta Warriors and Horses. Thanks to these great historic and cultural resources, Xian boasts the Museum of China History.

In Qin Dynasty, the capital was Xianyang, and the large part of Epang Palace Complex, the political center of Qin Empire, was located in today’s administrative area of downtown Xian. The Terracotta Warriors and Horses and Mausoleum of Qin are both situated in Lintong District of Xian City. In Han Dynasty, the capital was Xian as well, and the whole palace complex was built up on the base of the former palaces of Qin Dynasty. Majority of imperial mausoleums like the Tomb of Emperor Wen, Tomb of Emperor Jin and Tomb of Emperor Wu are located in the region of today’s Xianyang city.

In Tang Dynasty, the whole imperial area is absolutely superposed with today’s downtown Xian. Mausoleum of Zhao and Mausoleum of Qian of Tang Dynasty are mostly located in the administrative region of Xianyang. In Tang Dynasty, the famous Eighteen Mausoleums of Tang Dynasty is in the region of Xian. On December 12, 1936, a historically famous incident happened in Xian, which historically known as Xian Incident, Marshals Zhang Xueliang(张学良) and Yang Hucheng(杨虎城) forced Chiang Kai-shek to start the nationwide fight against Japanese invaders, and Chiang Kai-shek was placed under the house arrest. After the peaceful intermediation of Zhou Enlai, this political crisis was resolved, and since then, Chinese anti-Japanese war officially begun.


Cultural Legacy of Xian

Qinqiang Opera, known as a site of National Intangible Cultural Heritage, popularizes in Shaanxi province and northwest regions of China. It is oldest, richest and hugest oral opera system of Chinese operas. Nuo Dancing(傩舞) and Tiao Zhong Kui popular in hometown of Zhong Kui, Hu County, is the living fossil of Chinese opera and dramatic dancing. Nuo(傩) is the pioneer of Chinese traditional medicine. Qinqiang Opera has its own independent performance system. The performance system consists of four respects: Sheng(生), Dan(旦), Jing(净) and Chou(丑). On May 20, 2006, Qinqiang Opera was inscribed into the first batch of National Intangible Cultural Heritage Sites.

Painting School of Xian is an important painting style of China, and in 1960s, a Xian Arts Group represented by Zhao Wangyun (赵望云) and Shi Lu(石鲁) held a painting exhibition in Beijing themed with loess-altiplano paintings as well as the diligent and innocent paintings of peasants. It became quite influential in the circle of Chinese painting.

The well-known shadow play is originated from the a period before Han Dynasty, and Puppet Opera of Shaanxi province is sourced from West Zhou Dynasty, and Zhong Kui profile painted by peasants is absolutely themed with the story of Zhong Kui and different profiles of Zhong Kui, who was a legendary god in charge of capturing the ghosts.

Xian Cuisine

There are famous snacks in Xian. Biangbiang Noodle is the most basic and ordinary noodle in Xian. Xian Jiaozi Dinner(饺子宴, Xian Dumpling Dinner) is the classic snack of Xian. This famous snack is based on absorbing the traditional dumpling cuisine culture.Xian Jiaozi Dinner is mainly comprised of diversity of dumplings. Qinzhen Liangpi(秦镇凉皮) has more than 2000 years of history. This is a quite famous snack. Since the period of Emperor Qinshihuang, this snack appeared and became the special tribute of Qin Dynasty. Niuyangrou Paomo(牛羊肉泡馍, beef-mutton bread) is a special snack of Xian, and the most famous place to enjoy it is Laosunjia Fanzhuang(Sun-Family Restaurant). Up to today, it has more than 100 years of history. Laotongjia Layangrou(老童家腊羊肉, Tong-Family Preserved Mutton) is also a famous snack. In 1900, united troop of eight western powers attacked Beijing, Dowager Empress Cixi together with Emperor Guangxu escaped to Xian and tasted this snack, and gave it a high comment. From then on, this snack becomes famous. Guokui(锅盔)is also a favorable snack in Xian. Roujiamo(肉夹馍) is a famous snack in Shaanxi province and originated from the period of the Warring States. The other famous snacks include Lazhirou(腊汁肉), Hulutou(葫芦头), Rouwanhulatang(肉丸胡辣汤), Mizao Zenggao(蜜枣甑糕) and Shizimo(石子馍).

Xian Tourist Attractions

xian terracotta warriors and horses
Huashan Mountain Scenic Area
As the origin of Chinese civilization, Xian has a great history and glorious culture, and belongs to the first batch of national cultural and historic cities of China. Thanks to its history and culture, Xian is an internationally famous city surrounded by more than 120 imperial mausoleums. The representatives of the tourist attractions of Xian are Terracotta Warriors and Horses as the eighth miracle of the world, Emperor Qinshihuang’s Mausoleum. Xian Ancient City Wall, Hanyang Mausoleum, Prehistoric Site of Banpo, Xian Stele Forest Museum, Shaanxi Provincial History Museum, Giant Wild Goose Pagoda, Small Wild Goose Pagoda, Xian Great Mosque, Mausoleum of the Emperor Yellow, Mao Mausoleum, Qian Mausoleum, Famen Temple, Historic Site of Daming Palace of Tang Dynasty, Tang Lotus Park(Xian Tang Paradise), Cien Temple, Weiyang Lake Amusement Park, Xian Antique Market, Huancheng Park, Xian Yuanshun International Snooker Club, Lianhu Park, Xingqinggong Park, Tang Dynasty Sleepless City, Huashan Mountain, Zhongnan Mountain, Taibai Mountain, Wangshun Mountain, Lishan Mountain, Xian Xintiandi Pleasure Ground, Louguan Platform and Wangchuan Cave. More about the scenic area of Xian Ancient Street

Xian Travel Tips

Xian is under the influence of monsoon climate, and it is quite dry in winter, so the travelers had better add sufficient moisture. Due to the difference of south-north climate and the dining habits, travelers had better take more anti-cold and anti-diarrhea medicine. The body of Huashan Mountain is granite, and roads are paved with stone, so travelers had better wear the flattie when climbing the mountain. Huashan Mountain is famous for steepness, and the road is narrow, and it is better to carry an umbrella or rainwear. Xian is an international tourist city with a huge population and heavy traffic, so travelers should take notice of their belongings. Huimin Snack Street of Xian is the center of people of Hui Ethnic Group, and Hui people do not eat meat, especially the pork, because of their Islamic belief, and travelers should respect their lifestyle. In September and October, the temperature difference is too large in Xian, and the average temperature is around 18-26 celsius degree, so travelers had better wear the T-shirt and carry a long-sleeve greatcoat.

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