Home : China Guide : Shaanxi : Introduction of Xian
Xi'an (Xian) is the largest city in the Shaanxi Province with a history that goes back more than 3000 years. From the earliest societies, people lived and multiplied here. Of the six ancient capital cities of China,Xi'an was the capital for the longest time - it served twelve dynasties (more than any other city) including the well-known Western Zhou, Qin, Western Han, Sui and Tang, stretching over a total of more than 2000 years. During its history it became the Oriental cultural center along the Silk Road.
Xian lies at longitude 103 east by latitude 34 north, and 412 meters above sea level. It has an average annual temperature of 13 , and an average annual precipitation of 604 mm. The rainy season comes in July, August and September. The city now has under its jurisdiction eight districts -- Xincheng, Beilin, Lianhu, Yanta, Weiyang, Baqiao, Lintong and Yangling, and five counties -- Chang'an, Lantian, Huxian, Zhouzhi and Gaoling. As a whole, Xian covers an area of 9,983 square kilometers and has population of 5,860,000. The city proper occupies an area 861 square kilometers, and reaches a population of 2,650,000.
With an elevation of 500 metres, the Weihe Plain extends between Baoji in the west and Tongguan in the east and borders the Qinling Mountains in the south and the Huangtu Plateau in the north. Lying in the warm zone, the plain has a temperate climate with four distinct seasons. Chequered with the Weihe, Jinghe, Luohe, and Bahe rivers as well as the Jinghui, Weihui and Luohui canals, the fertile land on the plain has easy access to irrigation facilities and an abundant yield of farm produce. Xian lies in the centre to the south of this plain, a favourable geographical location surrounded by water and hills.
The area around Xian was inhabited by the progenitors of the Chinese nation as far back as 500,000-600,000 years ago. In the 1960s, archaeologists discovered in Lantian County to the southeast of Xian human fossils and cultural relics belonging to the Paleolithic Period. In the 1950s, the remains from the Neolithic Period were discovered at Banpo Village to the east of Xian City. In the 70s, the Jiangzhai Ruins from a later part of the Neolithic period were discovered at Lintong County to the northeast of Xian City. These archaeological discoveries indicate that the area around Xian is one of the cradles of Chinese civilization.
As one of the six ancient capitals in China, Xian served as the seat of 12 imperial capitals for 1,120 years after Chinese society had entered the civilized stage.
Xian is also a world-famous tourist city, a treasure house of cultural relics. The remains of past civilizations furnish evidence of every major epoch in China's half a million history, making for a particularly illustrative textbook of Chinese culture. The history apparent in Xian is so ancient and continuous that the city has no parallel anywhere as a cultural site. Here one can visit the sites once inhabited by its primitive people; admire the bronze wares manufactured in the Bronze Age; wander through the city ruins of the Qin, Han, Sui and Tang Dynasties; imagine for oneself the clamour of the old Oriental metropolis; explore the imperial tombs of the Qin, Han and Tang Dynasties, testimony to the pervasive power of the feudal ruling class; ramble in temples and pagoda courtyards, tracing vestiges of the Silk Road; and study stone inscriptions to appreciate Chinese calligraphy. Not least, Xian is the site of excavation of the vast army of terracotta warriors and horses from the tomb of China's First Emperor, Qin Shihuang, from whom the country derives its name.
Xian was the starting point of the world-famous Silk Road. It can be well likened to a history museum. Moving around this old city is like going through thousands of years back in time. In this vast museum you will see the Banpo Village Remains of a matriarchal community; the Huaqing Hot Springs which was noted as early as the Zhou Dynasty more than 3,000 years back; Qin Shihuang's terra-cotta warriors and horses, known as the eighth wonder of the world; the imperial cemetery grounds of the Han and Tang dynasties; the Great Mosque with unique features; the Big Wild Goose Pagoda and the Small Wild Goose Pagoda built in the Tang Dynasty; the Bell Tower and the Drum Tower of the Ming Dynasty; and the Forest of Steles with a rich collection of age-old stone steles.
10 days Shanghai-Xian-Pingyao-Beijing Train Tour
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