Home of the Terracotta Warriors

Trip Start Dec 14, 2007
Trip End Mar 16, 2009

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Flag of China  , Shaanxi,
Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Xian is well known to be the cradle of China's civilisation where most of China dynasties rose and fell. Today Xian is classified as a small city (only 3.2 mil) in terms of China vast population and largely caters for the tourist and educational industry.
One of the most famous sites in Xian are the world famous terracotta warriors which have been named by UNESCO as a world heritage site. The terracotta statues were discovered in the early 70's by a farmer trying to dig a well when he pulled up a terracotta head. Ever since the discovery the site has been under excavation to renovate and reconstruct the buried treasure.
The terracotta warriors were made by Emperor Qin Shi Huang apparently to act as his army in the next life. Many of the warriors have had to be restored as they have either been broken by invading armies or just crushed by the earth covering them, only a handful have been found intact.
The amazing thing about site is the sheer number of terracotta warriors that were made, more than 3000 in one pit. What was also amazing to discover was that no two faces were the same, as if they were modelled on a real person. The intricate detail was also astounding, from patterns on the soles of shoes to the different hair styles. The warriors were all also brightly painted as can be seen in some early photographs taken by archaeologists but apparently the colours disappeared within hours of being excavated.
To get a better understanding of Chinese history and its various dynasties we visited the Shaanxi History Museum. The museum has more than 3000 priceless pieces on display from 3000 BC to modern day history. As we were accompanied by a tour guide we felt the visit to the museum was a little rushed but still gave us a great overview of China's history.
The rest of our time in Xian was spent exploring the city on our own which included a bicycle ride on the 640 year old wall surrounding the city center, walks through the Muslim quarter and a visit to a theme park. The theme park was designed to re-create the entertainment of Tang dynasty era. I was fun to walk around the massive park and just admire the architecture.
Xian is also famous for its dumplings and on our first night in town we had dinner at a famous dumpling restaurant and ordered a set menu of 18 different dumplings. It was a fascinating meal with steamed, fried and boiled dumplings with all kinds of yummy fillings. I didn't think these little things would fill us but we struggled to finish meal and had not choice but to leave the restaurant with a doggy bad.
Xian is a must for anyone wanting to gain a better understanding of China's mind boggling 6000 year history and any Chinese dumpling fans. 
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