This ancient capital of China has more than a few lesser-known gems
Any history buff worth their salt would know that Xi’an more than rivals Beijing and Shanghai as the core of ancient Chinese civilisation. The imperial capital of thirteen dynasties, Xi’an is most famous for being home to the iconic Terracotta Warriors that guard the tomb of Qin Shi Huang. Add a walk along the City Walls and a visit to the Dayan Pagoda, and you’ll see why this city wowed Mark Zuckerberg in 2015.
But the basic one-day itinerary does not do justice to the treasures of China’s rich cultural heritage that Xi’an holds. And if you get restless looking at towering, centuries-old structures after another, get ready to be surprised by the colourful diversity of natural and urban life not too far away. From modern politics to scenic views to a foodie’s paradise, these five awe-inspiring places will get you delving deeper into this fascinating city.
1. Xi’an Incident Memorial Hall (兵谏亭)
Sure, the clay statues of the Terracotta Army are amazingly life-like, but this memorial where a monumental modern incident took place will truly make you feel like you’re standing in the shadows of history. Explore the relics and exhibitions recreating the scenes when two Kuomintang generals detained their leader, Chiang Kai-shek, to force a united front with the Communist Party against the Japanese in 1936. To cap off the surreal experience of this major event in China’s political history, step outdoors and climb the rocks where Chiang tried in vain to hide.
Admission is free. The explanations at the museum are all written in Mandarin, so if you need translations, make sure you have a tour guide. Alternatively, you can rent an English audio guide there.