Xi’an is the oldest surviving capital of ancient China. It was capital for 13 imperial dynasties, with 73 emperors in total. When China got unified for the first time by Qin dynasty, the capital was located to the northwest of Xi’an.
The city was also the eastern end of the Silk Road so it can be said that Xi’an was for a long time important trading place as well as historical place.
History aside, my main reason to visit Xi’an was to see the Terracotta Army and try the plank walk in Hua Shan.
I will write a separate post about the plank walk so let us focus now on a city itself, and its biggest attraction – the Terracotta Army 🙂
The Terracotta Army – Mausoleum of the First Qin Emperor
Qin Shi Huang, the first unifier of China, is buried there and is surrounded by the terracotta warriors. The tomb is designed to mirror the urban plan of the capital, Xianyan. Qin wanted the afterlife to be the same as his life on earth. As he was a warrior, that unified China, he had many enemies. Therefore he had to be protected in the afterlife.
The tomb is on the UNESCO Wold Heritage list.
How to get there
To get to the army, I had to get to the central station and then take a bus. They have a lot of clueless foreigners, so there were many posters with a map where buses to different places depart from. Surprisingly easy!
The only thing left was to confirm that this is the correct bus, hop in and hand the lump of money so they could take as much as needed (my way of paying in China).
It took around an hour to get to the place. So far, so good. After I got out the bus, I had to find the entrance, and that was quite the challenge. After following the crowd, stuffing my phone under people noses, I finally managed to find the entrance. You would think it would be easy, in a place where there is only one museum, huh? You could not be more wrong!
There are three pits altogether on the museum grounds. The Pit 1 is the best one – that’s the one from all the pictures you see on the internet. The pit is filled with different types of warriors that include bowman, infantrymen, and among these soldiers are six chariots. Every soldier was painted and had a unique expression.
As it is the best pit, it means it’s also full of crowds. If what I saw was an empty museum I do not want to see a crowded one!
After being pushed back and forth, squeezed thoroughly by impatient overly eager selfie centered Chinese, I managed to get some nice shots and see something.
It was cool, don’t take me wrong, but somehow I thought it would be more prominent? The thing with the army is that it is not fully excavated. The second the figure is dug out, the paint disappears in 5 seconds. Because of this, the excavations are halted, waiting for better technology. However, it is still awe-inspiring, when you see it.
Next to Pit 1 there is Pit 2 that is little smaller. It has the most army units with archers, chariots, mixed forces, and cavalry.
Pit 3 is the smallest of them all and represents the command post.
You can visit the army either by yourself, rent an audio guide or hire a guide. At the ticket office, many guides were asking if I would be interested in their services. I ended up walking by myself, but I could see that most of the people had guides.
Overall, it’s worth visiting to see it at least once in a lifetime but wouldn’t say it was the highlight of my trip 🙂 Especially not it if it’s too crowded. Chinese don’t have a motion of “I’m going to let you back out slowly and then get in.” Their mindset is more less like “Oh My God tiny opening, ruuuuuuun! Kill!”
Getting a bus back was a challenge too. I started seeing a trend here. After I got out of the museum onto the street, I saw 4 clusters of busses in different places. So I ended up going from one to another with my phone asking for the one to take me back to Xian. After 20 minutes of waking someone pointed me in the direction of a correct bus. Yey, another achievement unlocked!
If you want to know more about prices and how to get there from different places in Xi’an, head to this website.