Xi’an is one of the most important cities in China’s history, serving as the eastern end of the Silk Road from Europe and Africa. Founded in the 11th century BC during the Zhou Dynasty, it was one of the four great capitals of China – I can’t say I’ve been in very many 3000 year old cities. Images of the First Qin Emperor, Shi Huang Di, are everywhere, as much as are those of Xi’an’s famous terracotta warriors, which were commissioned by the Emperor to protect him in the afterlife. Our hotel has an especially impressive 45-foot tall relief sculpture of the Emperor right behind the lobby, and little terracotta warriors are all over the place, like garden gnomes.
Within the city is the still-surviving wall that was built around the city in 1370 to replace an earlier one. The wall – 40 feet high and 50 feet thick – is open to pedestrians and bicyclists and is a popular spot for tourists who can visit and view its battlements, watchtowers, and archers’ stations…or dress up for a half hour as palace guards.
Hey, you – no straggling; back to reality…right now, buddy!
After breakfast, we piled into our buses for the Big Wild Goose Pagoda on the grounds of a Buddhist monastery. Swarming with swallows, the place is beautiful and peaceful.
Lunch, another bus ride out to the excavation site a mile from the Qin Emperor’s tomb, and then…
The Terracotta Army is mind-boggling…almost too much – the brain just can’t comprehend the scale of this project. At least 8000 life-size statues, many of which are yet to be unearthed, most badly damaged upon discovery, but painstakingly restored. It’s as overwhelming as the Forbidden City.
Afterwards, dinner and entertainment in the form of the Tang Dynasty Show, a dazzling display of colorful costumes, music, dance, and martial arts representing the Tang era (618-907 AD).
And it’s raining in Shanghai…