Day 6: Xi'an - The Central Stretch
July 1st 2015:
Xi'an deinately has an alternative feel than other places in China. The city is full of the typical high rise buildings, but travel to the centre and pass the city walls and you'll get a glimpse of he China hat was there before modernisation and industrilisation.
It is well know for it's central district being enclosed in an scienic city wall which has been maintained and restored over the centuries.
Xīnchéng means "new city" and is one of nine districts of Xi'an, the capital of Shaanxi province, China.
Xīnchéng includes the northwestern part of Xi'an's wall and leads straight into the cities main centre.
In this area you can find the Famous Drum and Bell towers, the Musliim Quarter aand Shuncheng Lane. Here you will also find most of the cities well known restaurants and shopping areas and covers a total of about 36 square kilometres.
What makes this area so special is the fact it's the most complete city wall that has survived in China, as well being one of the largest ancient military defensive systems in the world.
Xi'an Green Forest Hostel
We had seen mixed rreviews on this Hostel from various websies. But looking at the facilities and th fact it was only a two night stay - the location and price were what really attracted us.
For little over ¥100 (£10) p/n we had our own room with private en-suit bathroom. The view was out to the sprawling cty - nothing spectacular, but it was great value and still very nice. It is a hostel after all, and If your looking for luxury - this pobably isnt the place for you, but it will have everything you need if you're a practicle traveller and intend on spend a lot of time iut exploering Xi'an.
The Hostel is a little hard to find as it is in a share multi story building between two bycicle shops. But don't let that put you off. The Hostel is located right next to the city wall - which is beautiful and even more so at night when lit up. The hostel also has a great community vibe. It's alternative and edgy, well decofated and has a nice bar and terrace for the evenings. I definately recommend it!
The Muslim Quarter
The Start of the Silk Road
Behind the Drum Tower is the famous Muslim quarter (also called Islamic Street). As the starting point of the famous Silk Road, Xi'an attracted traders from West.
The Mulim Quarter is the hub of the Muslim community in Xian City, Shaanxi Province. Located to the north of the West Street in the city center, the quarter covers several blocks inhabitated by over 20,000 Muslims. There are about ten mosques in this area, among which the Great Mosque in the Huajue Lane is the most famous and popular.
This is the best place around for street food, markets and feeling the hussle of the city. Not to mention, for only 15 RMB you can enter the Giant Mosque, which, from the outside, looks deceivingly small. You’ll find the gate entrance along the bartering street and isan impressive and suprisingly peacful place despite being right in the centre of one of the most happing and busy streets in Xi'an.
Zhu Yuanzhang began to enlarge the wall built initially during the old Tang Dynasty (618 - 907), creating the modern Xian City Wall.
After the extension, the wall now stands 12 meters (40 feet) tall, 12-14 meters (40-46 feet) wide at the top and 15-18 meters (50-60 feet) thick at the bottom. It covers 13.7 kilometers (8.5 miles) in length with a deep moat surrounding it. Every 120 meters, there is a rampart which extends out from the main wall. All together, there are 98 ramparts, which were built to defend against the enemy climbing up. Each rampart has a sentry building, in which the soldiers could protect the entire wall without exposing themselves to the enemy.
The wall includes four gates and they are respectively named as Changle (meaning eternal joy) in the east, Anding (harmony peace) in the west, Yongning (eternal peace) in the south and Anyuan (forever harmony) in the north.
The south gate, Yongning, is the most beautifully decorated one. It is very near to the Bell Tower, center of the city. It is well worth a visit and if you have the time and enegery, take a bike ride alon the top if the city wall to see it, and the cite in all it's glory.
Wild Goose Pagoda:
The Small Wild Goose Pagoda is located near the Jianfu Temple in south Xian. As a national scenic spot and a world heritage site and the Buddhist pagoda has survived from the Tang Dynasty (618-907).
The Small Wild Goose Pagoda was built of blue bricks. Originally, it had 15 storeys, and measured about 45 meters in height. Because of numerous violent storms and earthquakes, the two upper storeys were destroyed. The existing 13-storey pagoda measures 43.4 meters in height.
The area is surounded by plush gardens and tmeple scenery. There is even a Bell tower which you can visit and ring the bell thee times like the monks did here in acient times.
Outside the City:
The Terracotta Warriors:
The Terracotta Army is classed as one of the top attractions in China. It is significant because the hundreds of detailed life-size models represent the army that triumphed over all other Chinese armies in the Warring States Period, and who ushered in the united imperial China era 2,200 years ago.
Upon ascending the throne at the age of 13 (in 246 BC), Qin Shi Huang, later the first Emperor of all China, had begun to work for his mausoleum. It took 11 years to finish.
Each hand crafted model is completely unique. Each has its own face. hair-style, clothimg style and pose. Thousands of life-size, vivid terracotta warriors；in battle formation were revealed in the course of excavation of the earth and timber vaults - a whole army which would accompany its emperor into immortality. The sight transports you back to the ancient warring states period.
The museum itseld has thee main site/pits. Pit oe is the larges and most intact, but each is as interstng as the next. You can see the broken shards and piles of bodies spread out over the tomb floors and in other areas you can see fully restored or even completely intact warriors on display. It really is an outstandinding feat of craftmenship.
Situated in Huayin City, Mt. Hua Shan 华山 is 120 kilometers (about 75 miles) from Xian. It hass five peaks are the representative attractions and each has its distinctive charms: East Peak is the best place to enjoy the sunrise; South Peak has the highest altitude; West Peak is the most elegant; North Peak is famous as the Cloud Terrace Peak and Middle Peak is also called Jade Lady Peak. The Mountain is also home to several influential Taoist temples, where many emperors of past dynasties took part in Taoist activities, making it a holy land of Taoism.
One of the five sacred mountains of Chin, Hua Shan is in the West and known as - the West Great Mountain (Xīyuè). The four sister mountains being Tài Shān in the east, Nan Yue Shān in the south, Sōng Shān in the centre of China and Héng Shān in the North.
This is probably the number 1 attraction in China that I visited. After a long journey up of terrifying highets anddifficult climbs the views from tthe top are amazing and some of the most beautful I saw in China.
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Beijing, Yangtze & Shanghai:
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