Xi'an, located in central-northwest China, records the great changes of the country just like a living history book. Called Chang'an (meaning the eternal city) in ancient times, it is one of the birthplaces of the ancient Chinese civilization in the Yellow River Basin area. As the eastern terminal of the Silk Road and the site of the famous Terracotta Warriors of the Qin Dynasty, the city has won a reputation all over the world. More than 3,000 years of history including over 1,100 years as the capital city of ancient dynasties, have endowed the city with an amazing historical heritage. Travelers marvel at the numerous historical sites and cultural relics in the city.
The Terracotta Army is a collection of terracotta sculptures depicting the armies of Qin Shi Huang, the first Emperor of China. It is a form of funerary art buried with the emperor in 210–209 BCE and whose purpose was to protect the emperor in his afterlife.
The figures, dating from approximately the late third century BCE, were discovered in 1974 by local farmers in Lintong District, Xi'an, People's Republic of China, Shaanxi province. The figures vary in height according to their roles, with the tallest being the generals. The figures include warriors, chariots and horses. Estimates from 2007 were that the three pits containing the Terracotta Army held more than 8,000 soldiers, 130 chariots with 520 horses and 150 cavalry horses, the majority of which remained buried in the pits nearby Qin Shi Huang's mausoleum. Other terracotta non-military figures were found in other pits, including officials, acrobats, strongmen, and musicians.
How to Get to Terracotta Army from Wyndham
The Terracotta Warriors and Horses tourist site is located in Lintong District, about 45 kilometers (28 miles) to Wyndham Grand Xi'an South,Qujiang New District. To get there, you can take bus number 307 departing from one of its bus stops such as Tang Paradise West Gate, Big Wild Goose Pagoda. You can also go by taxi (cost about CNY 120).
Giant Wild Goose Pagoda (Dayan Pagoda)
As the symbol of the old-line Xi'an, Giant Wild Goose Pagoda (also called Big Wild Goose Pagoda) is a well-preserved ancient building and a holy place for Buddhists. It is located in the southern suburb of Xi'an City, about 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) from the downtown of the city. Standing in the Da Ci'en Temple complex, it attracts numerous visitors for its fame in the Buddhist religion and its simple but appealing style of construction. Giant Wild Goose Pagoda is rated as a National Key Cultural Relic Preserve as well as an AAAA Tourist Attraction. In addition, it was added to the World Heritage List on June 22, 2014, together with other sites along the ancient Silk Road.
This whole scenic area include the Big Wild Goose Pagoda, the Da Ci'en Temple, and the various squares, gardens and other facilities around.
Giant Wild Goose Pagoda
Originally built in 652 during the reign of Emperor Gaozong of the Tang Dynasty (618-907), Giant Wild Goose Pagoda functioned to collect Buddhist materials that were taken from India by the hierarch Xuanzang.
First built to a height of 60 meters (197 feet) with five storeys, Giant Wild Goose Pagoda is now 64.5 meters (211.6 feet) high with an additional two storeys. It was said that after that addition came the saying-'Saving a life exceeds building a seven-storey pagoda'. Externally Big Wild Goose Pagoda looks like a square cone, simple but grand and it is a masterpiece of Buddhist construction. Built of brick, its structure is very firm. Inside the pagoda, stairs twist up so that visitors can climb and overlook the panorama of the city from the arch-shaped doors on four sides of each storey. On the walls are engraved fine statues of Buddha by the renowned artist Yan Liben of the Tang Dynasty. Steles by noted calligraphers also grace the pagoda.
As for the reason why it is called Giant Wild Goose Pagoda, there is a legend. According to ancient stories of Buddhists, there were two branches, for one of which eating meat was not a taboo. One day, they couldn't find meat to buy. Upon seeing a group of big wild geese flying by, a monk said to himself: 'Today we have no meat. I hope the merciful Bodhisattva will give us some.' At that very moment, the leading wild goose broke its wings and fell to the ground. All the monks were startled and believed that Bodhisattva showed his spirit to order them to be more pious. They established a pagoda where the wild goose fell and stopped eating meat. Hence its name.
Da Ci'en Temple
Da Ci'en Temple is the home of Giant Wild Goose Pagoda. In 648, the temple is built to commemorate the dead virtuous queen, for which the status and scale far exceeded all others. Today, with an area of 50,738 square meters (12.5 acres), one seventh of the original area, it still retains its grandeur.
Before the temple, there stands a statue of hierarch Xuanzang, the meritorious hierarch. With guarding lions at both sides of the gate, the temple seems stately for lions were said to function as talismans. Entering the temple you will see two buildings - Bell Tower in the east and Drum Tower in the west. Along the central axis are arranged the Hall of Mahavira, Sermon Hall, Big Wild Goose Pagoda, and the Hall of Xuanzang Sanzang.
Squares and Gardens around Giant Wild Goose Pagoda
There are many featured squares and gardens around the Giant Wild Goose Pagoda and temple, which provides the locals and tourists with wonderful resorts for free. The most remarkable one should be the North Square boasting the largest musical fountain in Asia. Besides, the Tang Ci'en Temple Site Park and the Shaanxi Opera Garden to the east, the Shaanxi Folk Customs Garden to the west, as well as the South Square with the statue of Monk Xuanzang and the Great Tang All Day Mall to the south are also worth visiting.
How to get to Giant Wild Goose Pagoda
Take bus 224, Tourist Bus Line 9, 44 departing from one of its bus stops such as Mian Hill Village,Yan Nan Road and get off at Dayanta (Big Wild Goose Pagoda) Station.
It costs about CNY 9 from Wyndham Grand Xi'an South,Qujiang New District to this scenic area.
Xi'an City Wall
Xi'an City Wall is the most complete city wall that has survived in China, as well being one of the largest ancient military defensive systems in the world.
Xi'an City Wall Facts
When Zhu Yuanzhang, the first Emperor of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), captured Huizhou, a hermit named Zhu Sheng admonished him that he should 'built high walls, store abundant food supplies and take time to be an Emperor,' so that he could fortify the city and unify the other states. After the establishment of the Ming dynasty, Zhu Yuanzhang followed his advice and began to enlarge the wall built initially during the old Tang Dynasty (618 - 907), forming today's scale of Xi'an City Wall.
Since the ancient weapons did not have the power to break through a wall and the only way for an enemy to enter the city was by attacking the gate of the city wall. This is why complicated gate structures were built within the wall. The wall includes four gates and they are respectively named as Changle (meaning eternal joy) in the east, Anding (harmony peace) in the west, Yongning (eternal peace) in the south and Anyuan (forever harmony) in the north.
The south gate, Yongning, is the most beautifully decorated one. It is very near to the Bell Tower, center of the city. Important greeting ceremonies organized by the Provincial Government are usually held in the south gate square. The South Gate Square is restored and formally open to public on September 6, 2014. Covering an area of around 7.9 acres (32,000 square meters), the U shaped square is divided into three parts, main royal road, secondary royal road and celebration square. Below the square is a large underground parking lot. Meanwhile, two museums inside the barbican and the archery tower of the South Gate are also open to the public. Tourists who visit the wall can enjoy a free visit to these two museums.
Each city gate has three gate towers: Zhenglou, Jianlou and Zhalou. The most outside is Zhalou, which stands away and is opposite to Zhenglou. It was used to raise and lower the suspension bridge. Jianlou with small windows in the front and flanks was used as a defensive outpost. Zhenglou, in the inner, is the main entrance to the city. The wall connects Jianlou and Zhenglou Towers. The area between them was called 'Wong Cheng', in which the soldiers stationed. From Wong Cheng, there are sloped horse passages leading to the top of the wall.
Travel Tips for Ascending the Wall
Encircling the rectangled city center of Xi'an, it has totally 18 city gates, but they are not all open for visitors. Visitors can ascend the Wall from the South Gate, Small South Gate, East Gate, West Gate, North Gate, Heping Gate, Wenchang Gate and Hanguang Gate. You can choose the nearest city gate according to your location. No matter which gate you choose, you can tour the whole circle of the wall if you like. Here is a hiking itinerary around the wall starting from the South Gate for your reference.
Activities on the City Wall: Marathon, Kite Festival, Lantern Fair ...
How to get there
Getting to four major gates:
To the South Gate(Yongning Gate):
Take bus no.609,12,26 departing from one of its bus stops such as Tang Paradise West Gate,Botanical Garden,Yan Nan Road and get off at South Gate Station.
It costs about CNY 22 from Wyndham Grand Xi'an South,Qujiang New District to this scenic area.
To the East Gate(Changle Gate):
Take bus no.22,500,27 departing from one of its bus stops such as Tang Paradise West Gate,Mian Hill Village,South Square of Dayan Pagoda and get off at East Gate Station.
It costs about CNY 22 from Wyndham Grand Xi'an South,Qujiang New District to this scenic area.
To the North Gate(Anyuan Gate):
Take bus no.609 departing from Tang Paradise West Gate and get off at North Gate Station.
It costs about CNY 30 from Wyndham Grand Xi'an South,Qujiang New District to this scenic area.
To the West Gate(Anding Gate):
Take bus no.224,23,407 departing from one of its bus stops such as Mian Hill Village,Yan Nan Road,Wa Hutong primary school and get off at West Gate Station.
It costs about CNY 27 from Wyndham Grand Xi'an South,Qujiang New District to this scenic area.