Xi'an : Chinese City Guide

Posted by Charlie @ Discovering Mandarin Sunday, 16 August 2009
Xi’an in Shaanxi
(西安; Xī'ān) (陕西; Shǎnxī)

Xi’an is now the capital of the Shaanxi province, located in the southern part of the Guanzhong Plain. With the Qinling Mountains to the south and the Weihe River to the north, it is in a favourable geographical location surrounded by water and hills. Its monsoon climate is semi-moist and there is clear distinction between the four seasons.

Xi’an was historically known as Cháng'ān (长安). Though the name of the city itself has changed many times during the dynasties. Xi'an is the eastern terminus of the Silk Road which connected Europe, Africa and Arabia to China and Asia throughout history. It is historically one of the oldest Chinese cities and boasts one of only two intact city fortifications in the country.

Xi’an has many attractions for tourists such as the Mausoleum of Qin Shi Huang and his Terracotta Army, several burial mounds and numerous Tang Dynasty pagodas including the Giant Wild Goose and Small Wild Goose Pagodas. It also has religious buildings of importance such as the Famen Temple, Great Mosque and nearby Louguantai the birthplace of Daoism, where according to legend Lao Zi (Lao Tzu) wrote the Dao De Jing (Tao Te Ching) and preached sermon.

However the most famous of the attractions is nearby Xi’an. Qin Shi Huang’s Terracotta Army (兵马俑; bīngmǎ yǒng) is one of the most famous Chinese exports and has had huge success as a travelling exhibition. The 8000 or so figures found in 1974 near the Mausoleum of the First Qin Emperor, date back to around 210BCE.

Both the Giant Wild Goose and Small Wild Goose Pagodas survived numerous earthquakes, and although both have sustained damage, they remain standing to this day.

The Bell Tower (钟楼; Zhōnglóu) and the Drum Tower (鼓楼; Gǔlóu), are in the exact city centre, and is the most convenient starting point to go anywhere in the city. From this point the streets split up into the four points of the compass. North-Street (北大街 Běidàjiē), East-Street (东大街 Dōngdàjiē), South-Street (南大街 Nándàjiē) and West-Street (西大街 Xīdàjiē).

Xi'an is a city where the old meets the new, and not in the best sense...

Xi'an does have quite a funky Starbucks design though...

Xi’an is twinned with Birmingham, UK. (amongst many other cities)

simplified Mandarin character; 西安;
pinyin: Xī'ān

Photo Sources: (In order of appearance)
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