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Travel Logs March 2013

Compulsive Traveler

Ten Things to do in Xian, China

By Sandra Scott

According to historians of the time the burial mound which is about a mile from the pits, contained 100 rivers of flowing mercury under a ceiling decorated with celestial bodies. It took 700,000 workers several decades to complete the massive funerary that was not discovered until 1974. Each warrior is different and exquisitely made.

  1. vt_scott0313Terra Cotta Warriors: A 30-minute ride out of the city of Xian is an amazing archeological site. The sight of thousands of life-size terra cotta warriors in formation will not disappoint. It is all part of the tomb of Qin Shi Huang who, 2,220 years ago, united the various areas of China and named himself First Emperor of China. According to historians of the time the burial mound which is about a mile from the pits, contained 100 rivers of flowing mercury under a ceiling decorated with celestial bodies. It took 700,000 workers several decades to complete the massive funerary that was not discovered until 1974. Each warrior is different and exquisitely made.
  2. Banpo Site: At the Banpo Museum visitors can see the archeological dig that unearthed remains from the Neolithic age. There are three sections: the residential area with a reconstructed house, a pottery-making site, and the burial section. The site helps to explain the typical Neolithic matriarchal community of the Yangshao Culture that dates back about 6,000 years and the life of those who make their home in the Yellow River Valley.
  3. Shaanxi History Museum: Xian was the capital city of 13 dynasties which lasted over 1100 years making the museum the perfect place to learn about the cultures of China. The modern, Tang-style museum is home to nearly 400,000 relics including ceramics, bronzes, jades, gold, silver and excellent examples of calligraphy. Most of the displays have English captions.
  4. Muslim quarter: The quarter is home of the Great Mosque, a unique blend of Chinese and Islamic architecture. Building started in 742 and expanded over the years so that now the area includes a Chinese-style minaret plus many buildings, pavilions, and gardens making it a quiet place in a busy city. Around the Great Mosque is an excellent place to shop and eat traditional street food – or just wander around.
  5. City Walls: Explore the nine miles of the Xian city walls built in the 1300s on top of the earlier ones from the 600s. It is one of the few cities where the walls are still intact and the most complete surviving city wall in China, as well as being one of the largest ancient military defensive systems in the world. Explore on foot or by bike.
  6. Towers: The wooden Bell Tower with its three-tiered roof marks the geographic center of the ancient capital and where the four main streets meet. At 118 feet high it is the largest and best preserved tower of its kind. The large bronze bell was struck each morning. Just a short walk away is the Drum Tower built in 1380, where drums were used to signal time and in case of emergency. Both offer great views.
  7. Wild Goose Pagodas: The well-preserved Great Wild Goose was a holy place for Buddhists. Visitors can climb to the top where it is traditional to throw money from the window to bring good luck. The Small Goose Pagoda is home to the Xian Museum. Both are the site of various activities throughout the year.
  8. Tang Dance Show: The show keeps alive the art forms of Xian dating back to the 600s when Xian was the imperial capital. Over the years the dances incorporated the best of various art forms from many other ethnic groups. The show includes singing, dancing, and acting accompanied by a variety of musical instruments. The show is often combined with a dumpling dinner.
  9. Dining: Besides sampling the food in the Muslin Quarter and attending a dumpling dinner as part of the Tang Dance show, there are some other wonderful eating experiences. The Sofitel Hotel's Casablanca has the finest Middle East restaurant. At the Sheraton, try Xian hamburger or Biang Biang Mian, both are unique to Xian.
  10. Spas: After a day of work or sightseeing spend some time relaxing at one of the many high-end spas. The two Shangrilas, the Sheraton, the Sofitel and the newly opened Hilton all have excellent spas with a full menu of treatments.

 

Sandra Scott travels the globe recording the top attractions at every destination.

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