Xi'an is the capital of the Shaanxi province. As one of the oldest cities in China, with more than 3,100 years of history, the city is one of the Four Great Ancient Capitals of China. Xi'an is the eastern terminus of the Silk Road and home to the Terracotta Army.
Seven styles of architecture dominate urban Xi'an, the first three include the architecture of Qin and Han dynasties, the architecture of Tang Dynasty and the architecture of Ming and Qing dynasties.
The Terracotta Army or the "Terra Cotta Warriors and Horses", is a collection of terracotta sculptures depicting the armies of Qin Shi Huang, the First Emperor of China.
The figures vary in height 1.83–1.95 metres (6 ft 0 in–6 ft 5 in), according to their roles, with the tallest being the generals. The figures include warriors, chariots, horses, officials, acrobats, strongmen and musicians. Current estimates are that in the three pits containing the Terracotta Army there were over 8,000 soldiers, 130 chariots with 520 horses and 150 cavalry horses, the majority of which are still buried in the pits.
Xi Ming Monastery (also romanized Hsi-ming-ssu) is a famous monastery located in Chang'an, the capital of Tang Dynasty in Chinese history. Ximing was established by Tang Gaozong in 656. It was at Ximing that pilgrim and traveller Xuanzang (602-664) had translated the scriptures he had brought back from India. Another traveller Yijing (635-713) also based himself at Ximing while working on translations of Indian scriptures. Indian scholar monk Shubhākarasimha, was responsible for the introduction of the Mahavairocana Sutra and the tantric traditions associated with it. Japanese monk, Kukai studied Sanskrit there under the tutelage of Gandharan pandit Prajñā (734-810?) who had been educated at the Indian Buddhist university at Nalanda. Ximing was celebrated for its library which was the most comprehensive library of Buddhist texts in China at the time.
As the world's largest city wall, the Xi'an city wall has been restored and is wide enough to easily ride 5 bikes across. The landscaped park around the base of the exterior walls and moat also makes for a pleasant stroll and gives a different perspective on the battlements and towers. There is a small museum inside the city walls at Hanguang Gate, about halfway between the southwest corner and the South Gate, accessible from the top of the city wall itself. Look for a staircase down inside a covered structure. Inside are the unrestored remains of a gatehouse and a calligraphy collection. The wall is lit up at night and makes for a pleasant stroll. The present city wall was built in the Ming dynasty on the foundation of the Chang'an Imperial city wall of Tang dynasty.
Big Goose Pagoda, Dayan Ta in Pinyin, (At Ci'en Temple, take bus 41 or 610 from the main train station). Built by Emperor Gaozong （Li Zhi) in 652AD. Emblem of the city of Xi'an. In the fountain in front of the pagoda there is a very nice water and music show sometimes during the day with pleasant parks and western eateries nearby.
The 2011 World Horticultural Expo will be held in Xi'an from 28 April, 2011, until 22 October, 2011. That's a six month window of opportunity for any keen gardeners or horticulturalists who would like to see amazing displays of the latest plants and plant technologies in extensive purpose built grounds.
The 2011 World Horticultural Expo is themed as:
Eternal Peace & Harmony between Nature & Mankind, Nurturing the Future Earth.