Xi'an is a museum city dotted with the historic relics of past dynasties, from the restored City Walls to the majesty of the Terracotta Warriors. Xi'an will delight travellers today, as it did centuries ago as the starting point of the silk road.
Xi'an is the best witness of China's long history and time-honoured cultures. The city presents the unique amalgamation of stunningly ancient and modern architectures, allowing tourists from all over the world to dive into the richness and distinctiveness of its cultural heritage.
The diverse heritage in Xi'an is supreme, particularly with the highlight of Terracotta warriors and horses, a collection of more than 7,000 life-sized terracotta sculptures serving as a protection for the tomb of Qin Shi Huang (the first emperor who unified the country). Historical records reveal that it took over 700,000 people's some 30 years to complete.
Soldier figures are varied in facial expressions, clothing, hairstyles and gestures; so are their horses, chariots and weapons. These masterpieces have provided abundant detailed evidence for the study of the history of military, culture, art, and economics of the Qin Dynasty (221-206 B.C.).
Considered as one of the greatest discoveries of the 20th century, these delicately crafted and painted models have delighted millions of visitors both at home and abroad.
Be aware that taking photos inside the pits at the Terracotta Warriors is officially prohibited.
Banpo village inhabited long before the glories of the various empires that made Xi'an home was discovered in 1953. The village is the earliest example of the Neolithic Yangshao culture that's renowned for its colourful ceramics that feature etchings that are possibly an early form of writing. The site itself is made up of divided into three separate areas: a residential area, a manufacturing area, and a cemetery. Remaining are 45 houses and buildings, 250 adult graves, 73 children's burial urns, and six pottery kilns. The villagers cultivated various crops, domesticated pigs and dogs, fished in the nearby Wei River and manufactured ceramics.
Some archaeologists have argued that Banpo represents a matriarchal society, though the supporting evidence remains vague. The site has been a treasure trove of artefacts though, with over 8,000 pieces unearthed.
Some of the most interesting artefacts are the children's burial urns. Children weren't buried with the adults but placed in urns which were buried close to homes. The lids on the urns have a hole in the top for the spirits of the deceased to travel to the afterworld.
The Banpo site holds two attractions: the Neolithic Village and theme park-Esque Matriarchal Village.
Shaanxi History Museum
Situated in the south of the city walls, northwest of the Big Wild Goose Pagoda, is the Shaanxi History Museum which opened in1991. It is the largest comprehensive museum in the province. The museum exhibits over 3,000 historical relics, a small fraction of their collection, ranging from 115,000-year-old prehistoric artefacts to items from the Opium Wars of the 1840s.
The museum, although built in a traditional Tang dynasty architectural style, is modern and well designed. The main attraction of the museum is the magnificent collection of Tang dynasty artefacts. Of special significant are the bronze pieces and the Tang gold and silverware, the terracotta pieces and murals from Tang dynasty tombs.
Shaanxi History Museum is the perfect place to travel through time and witness the path of Xi'an's development, as well as see priceless historical objects unearthed in and around the city. The museum is free of charge. However, visitors have to apply for tickets at the windows. Be warned, it's a long queue.