Discover Xi’an Shaanxi |Xian City Wall

Discover and explore the ancient city of Xian in the Shaanxi Province

Xian, is a very ancient city of  China. It has served as a capital city for 11 dynasties over a period of 1,100 years, longer than any other ancient capital city in China. Xian has 3,100 years of history and is one of the oldest cities in China.

In more recent times archeological finds have added greatly to the history and cultural significance of Xian. A discovery in 1963 of  Lantian Man in Lantian County, 50km southeast of Xian, dates back 500,000 years previously. In 1954 on the outskirts of the city, a 6,500 year old Banpo Neolithic village was discovered.

More recently in 1974, the Terra Cotta Warriors  were discovered by local farmers in the Lintong District of Xian, while they were digging a well. This location is near the Mausoleum of the first  Qin Emperor. These terracotta sculptures depict the armies of the First Emperor of China and date from 210BC.

Xian in  Shaanxi  is one of the original four great ancient Capitals of China

Prior to the Ming Dynasty, Xian was known as Chang’an.  The name of the city has been changed many times over the centuries. Xian is one of the original four great Ancient Capitals of China, having held that position under several of the most important dynasties in Chinese history including Zhou, Qin, Han, Sui, and Tang Dynasties. The four great ancient Capitals of China traditionally are considered to be Beijing, Nanjing, Luoyang and Chang’an (Xian).

The Bell Tower Hotel, Xian City

Arriving in Xian we  transferred to our hotel, the Bell Tower Hotel, located within the old Ming City Walls.  I could hardly wait to discover and explore all that Xian had to offer.

View-from-Bell-Tower-Hotel-Xian Shaanxi Province

View-across to the Drum Tower from our hotel in Xian, Shaanxi. I could hardly wait to explore.

We had an excellent view from our room of the main street, the Bell and Drum Tower, as well as a recreation area with a glass pyramid opposite the Hotel. The locals would practice their Tia Chi in front of the glass pyramid every morning.  The glass pyramid is the skylight for a below ground shopping area. Breakfasts at our hotel were really nice; buffet style with plenty of variety and fresh fruits.

About Xian City in the Shaanxi Province

Xian means ‘Western Peace’. It has a population of over 8 million people and is situated close to the banks of the Yellow River. Xian is the capital of the Shaanxi Province. Xian was the capital for China’s first Emperor Qin Shi Huang (221BC) and has a history dating back 1000BC.  Xian was also the starting point for the famous trade route known as the Silk Road.

Impressive-view-ancient-Ming-City Wall Xian Shaanxi

 Xian city wall – ancient Ming dynasty wall

About the ancient City Wall Xian

Our first view of the Xian City wall as we drove in, was most impressive. We had the opportunity to explore  the old  Ming City wall later that morning. The Xian City Walls (Ming Dynasty-1368-1627), are an extension of the old Tang Dynasty structure (618-907). After the establishment of the Ming Dynasty, Zhu Yuanzhang or Emperor Hongwu (1370-1378) began to enlarge the city wall and it became the modern Xian City Wall we see today.

The first city wall of Xian was built of earth, quick lime, and glutinous rice extract (sticky rice) mixed together, rammed  layer upon layer on top of one another, making an extremely strong wall. Later the wall was completely enclosed with bricks. A wide, deep moat ran around the city walls to add to its fortification. Today, areas around the city walls have been beautified with parks and gardens.

Parking-below-the-old Ming City Wall , Xian, Shaanxi

Parking-below-the-old Ming City Wall , Xian City, Shaanxi Province

The Wall stands 12 metres tall, 12-14 metres wide at the top and 15-18 metres thick at the bottom. It is 13.7 kilometers in length and surrounded by a deep moat.  This is what stands today and is the most complete city wall to have survived in China through the centuries. Since we didn’t get an opportunity in Beijing to explore the Walls of the Forbidden City, we were excited to walk on top of this great wall and marvel at its width, height and the structure.

On-top-of-the-old City-Wall Xian Shaanxi

A chance to discover and explore the-old City-Wall Xian, Shaanxi.

The Xian Ming City wall encircles the city in a rectangle with one gate on each side. On the wall, fortifications such as watch towers, turrets, ramparts and gate towers are all part of the defense system.The Ming City Wall in Xian, Shaanxi is also considered to be one of the largest ancient military defensive systems in the world.

Discover Xian-City-Wall- on foot or vehicles and bicycles are for hire

Discover Xian-City-Wall- on foot. Vehicles and bicycles are also for hire to tour the Wall

There are special vehicles available for hire on top of the wall, if you don’t wish to explore on foot. There are also bicycle’s for hire if you fancy cycling around the wall at your leisure. Both are relatively inexpensive.

Discover some of the important events which are held on the Xian city wall.

Don’t  forget it is very helpful to read up on the places you will visit that are on your itinerary of a small group tour. You will gain so much more insight to these exciting places if you  have some knowledge of them before hand.

Xian City Wall International Marathon Event, Shaanxi Province

The Xian City Wall International Marathon is one of the most important annual games held in Xian and has become  an international sporting event.The last Marathon was held on Xian City Wall on November 6th, 2010. The Xian City Wall International Marathon has been held 16 times. It was held first in 1993. Since then a total of more than 35,000 people have participated over the years. This total includes some 6,000 foreign athletes who came from more than 50 counties to compete.

Xian City Wall Lantern Festival

In Xian there is a Lantern Festival held on the fifteenth day of the first lunar month. It is a traditional Chinese holiday. At this time it is the custom to eat Yuan Xiao (a glutinous rice ball), solve puzzles on lanterns and enjoy colorful lantern displays.  On the night of the festival a lantern fair is held on the Xian City Wall. This is an amazing display of  bright colorful  lanterns based on traditional themes of the Tang Dynasty Culture and  Shaanxi Folk Customs.

Traditional Chinese architecture the ‘Palace Hotel’.

Look for this fabulous old hotel built in a traditional Chinese architectural style, which we could see from top of the old Xian City Wall. Can anyone provide me with any history on this hotel? I would loved to have had a peek inside.

View-of-this-great-old-Hotel from the Xian City Wall

View-of-this-great-old-Hotel from the Xian City Wall


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  1. Hi I am really enjoying your website Lyn. Your photo’s are great and you give a really descriptive narration of your travels. Obviously you have the travel bug and I hope to do half as much travel as you have one day. Keep up the good work.

    • Hi Brock, Thanks for your comments. I’m glad you enjoyed the travel tales on my website. Good luck in the future with your travel plans.

  2. Xian, is a very ancient city of China. It has served as a capital city for 11 dynasties over a period of 1,100 years, longer than any other ancient capital city in China. Xian has 3,100 years of history and is one of the oldest cities in China.I love there very much.

    • Hi Ish, thanks for the chat. You are so lucky to live and work in Xian with the Terracotta warriors. I visited a factory showroom where they made Terracotta Warriors while I was in Xian. It was so interesting to see the men working on the lifesize statues and view the kilns they were using to fire them in. It was a most interesting visit.

  3. I enjoyed reading your posts on the Xian City Wall and the sights you visited in China.I hope you visit again.

  4. Hello Lyn! I enjoyed reading about Xian city wall – put together with “Sticky rice” – fascinating stuff.Cheers!

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