For over two thousand years, Shaanxi Province was the cultural, economic and political core of China. Its cities, Xian included, were the capitals of over a dozen dynasties. The region, long before recent decades, already held a richness of attractions well beyond its relatively small size. But today, Xian is known first and foremost for its Terracotta Warriors.
The terracotta men, horses and chariots were ordered assembled by Shi Huang, the "First Emperor" and first leader in the short-lived, 3rd century BC Qin Dynasty. Soon after assuming the throne, Shi Huang ordered construction of his tomb and for added protection, had its richness protected by a subterranean, battle-ready army. Figures were placed upright in pits; wooden ceilings were added and then covered by earth. But soon after his death, uprisings and rebellions collapsed his dynasty. The pits housing the warriors were invaded, burned and they, too, collapsed.
Most of the terracotta figures and chariots were found broken, their once-vibrant colors scorched, washed away or muted by time. Excavation continues and to date, over 1,000 figures have been reassembled, now protected by overhead, warehouse-like structures as shown in this photograph.
Major Attractions of Xian:
Featured Hotels - Essential & Adventure Series Tours: (subject to change)
- Terracotta Warriors: Rarely is an archeological find actually a "discovery," as often labeled. Triumphs, when they come at all, follow years of careful research, exploration, and just plain dirty, dusty, digging. But what happened in 1974, a few miles outside of Xian, China, was very different. While digging a well, three brothers accidentally came upon one of the 20th century's greatest archeological treasures. There, buried just a few feet below the surface, were found the first of over 8,000 life-size terracotta figures of armed warriors, horses and chariots.
- Xian City Wall: Through the centuries, most major cities in China – particularly capital cities – were well-fortified with walls and watchtowers. But today most have, at best, only remnants of their once-mighty fortifications. Xian is an exception, with an entire 9-mile rectangle of 14th century walls, watchtowers and gates intact. The 40-foot-high walls afford terrific views of the city below, and make for an easy - if sometimes crowded- bike ride around the circumference.
- Shaanxi History Museum: This modern museum (1992) takes its design cues from Tang Dynasty (AD 618 – 907) architecture, but its relics chronicle thousands of years of China's civilization, from prehistoric times to the 20th century. When Europe was entering its Medieval Period, the Tang Dynasty, with Xian its capital, was flourishing. Often considered the most golden of China's "Golden Ages," the Tang Dynasty is well represented here.
Featured Hotel - Luxury Series Tours: (subject to change)
- Howard Johnson Ginwa Plaza Hotel
No. 18 West Section, Huangcheng South Road
Xian, 710068 China
Tel: (86) (29) 8842 1111
Fax: (86) (29) 8842 9999
5-Star - 340 rooms
A true 5-star hotel, the Howard Johnson Ginwa Plaza offers the prime location in Xian, directly across the street from City Wall’s popular South Gate access. 25 miles to the Terracotta Warriors, 30 miles to the Xian Airport.
For a link to the Howard Johnson Ginwa Plaza Hotel site click here.
- Xian Sheraton Hotel
No. 262 Feng Hao East Rd.
Xian, Shaanxi 710077 China
Tel: (86) (29) 8426 1888
Fax: (86) (29) 8426 2188
4-Star - 418 rooms
A short ride from the Xian City Wall places the Xian Sheraton in a favorable position for touring. On site features and amenities include an indoor heated pool and complete spa and fitness facilities.
For a link to the Sheraton Xian Hotel site click here.
- Hyatt Regency Xian
No. 158 Dongda Road
Xian, 710001 China
Tel: (86) (29) 8769 1234
Fax: (86) (29) 8769 6799
5-star - 404 rooms
The hotel is located within the ancient walls of the historic Xian city center. Xian Provincial Government Offices, the city's central business district and major entertainment, shopping and nightlife areas are nearby. 27 miles to Xian Xianyang International Airport.
For a link to the Hyatt Regency Xian site click here.
- Sofitel Xian on Renmin Square
No. 319 Dongxin Street
Xian, 710004 China
Tel: (86) (29) 8792 8888
Fax: (86) (29) 8792 8999
5-star - 432 rooms
The hotel is located in the centrally located Renmin Square ("People's Square") and features a complete fitness center & spa (including an indoor heated pool and thermal baths). All guest rooms include WiFi wireless Internet access, satellite TV, in-room safe, minibar and 24-hour room service. The Terracotta Warriors and the international airport are both about 45 minutes away.
For a link to the Sofitel Xian on Renmin Square site click here.