Xi'an - Abbey Travel, Ireland

Begin Your Search

    • 16+ yrs

    • 12-15 yrs

    • 2-11 yrs

    • 0-23 mnth

Found Item

Welcome to Xi'an


In ancient times the city of Xi'an was a major crossroads on the trading routes from eastern China to central Asia, and the beginning point of the famed Silk Road; in recent years this 3,100 year old city that was once regarded to be on a par with Rome and Constantinople, has come back into its own as one of China's major tourist attractions.

In 1974, on the city's eastern outskirts, archaeologists stumbled across a treasure trove: an army of terracotta warrior figurines in battle formation standing in underground vaults. Hailed as the greatest archaeological find of the 20th century, the Terracotta Warriors of Xi'an have brought visitors from around the world flocking to the city to soak up its historical and cultural heritage, and perhaps embark on an adventure tour along the ancient silk caravan route.

Xi'an, in ancient times known as Chang'an, is situated in central China in the southern part of Guan Zhong Plain in Shaanxi province, with the Qinling Mountains to the north and the Weihe River to the south.

Besides the terracotta warriors, the city has a great many historical relics of interest including museums and temples, having been the capital city of China through 12 dynasties during its thousands of years of development. The city wall is the largest in the world, and the Forest of Steles, with its collection of more than 3,000 ancient stone tablets, is both the largest and oldest in China.

Information & Facts


Xi'an has a continental monsoon climate, with four separate seasons. Summers are usually hot and wet, and winters tend to be cold and dry. July to September is the wet season and the average yearly temperature is 56°F (13°C). Spring and autumn are favourite times to travel to Xi'an, though generally the weather is pleasant year round.

Getting Around

Xi'an is easy to negotiate on foot, as it is relatively small and compact. Buses run frequently, linking most attractions, as do the smaller and more crowded minibuses. Taxis are plentiful but visitors should ensure the metre is switched on as drivers can tend to overcharge with 'fixed rates.' Hiring a bicycle is also an option, though one should be careful on the busy streets.

The official language is Mandarin Chinese, but there are hundreds of local dialects.

The currency used in China is the Renminbi Yuan (CNY). The Yuan is divided into 10 chiao/jiao or 100 fen. Make sure you exchange your leftover Yuan before returning home because this currency can be exchanged only within China's borders. Travellers cheques, preferably in US Dollars, and foreign cash can be exchanged in cities at the Bank of China. Banks are closed weekends. The larger hotels and the special 'Friendship Stores' designed for foreigners will accept most western currencies for purchases. Major credit cards are accepted in the main cities at various establishments, but outside the major cities acceptance is limited. ATMs are scarce outside the main cities.

Local time is GMT +8.

On a 538 square foot (50,000 sq metre) site east of Xi'an city, on the bank of the Chanhe River, are the remains of the ancient settlement of Banpo, dating from about 5000BC. The remains were discovered in 1953 by workers laying the foundations for a factory, and are the most complete example of an agricultural Neolithic settlement in the world. The site contains the ruins of more than 40 homes, 200 storage pots, a collection of pottery and tools, a pottery-making centre and more than 250 graves belonging to a matriarchal community of the Yangshao culture. There is an on-site museum, built in 1958, constructed over the excavation site with two smaller exhibition halls displaying the archaeological artefacts that have been unearthed at the site.

Though there are many collections of steles (stone tablets) in China, only the one in Xi'an is large enough to be called a forest. There are more than 3,000 ancient steles in this library, dating back to the Tang Dynasty (618-907). The museum itself is nearly as old, having been established in 1087. The steles are divided into seven exhibition halls, and display classic examples of traditional Chinese calligraphy, painting and historical records. Ink rubbings of some of the most famous tablets are for sale in the gift shop.

Pride of China's Islamic community, which numbers roughly 60,000 in Xi'an city, is the Great Mosque near the Drum Tower in the Muslim residential area. Islam came to China along with Arab merchants and travellers in roughly the year 600. The Great Mosque in Xi'an is the best-preserved ancient mosque in China, having been built in 742 during the Tang Dynasty. It is built in traditional Chinese style with platforms, pavilions and halls, and is rectangular in shape, divided inside into four courtyards. Visitors can explore the passages, courtyards and archways and admire the furniture and fittings, most of which date from the Ming and Qing Dynasties. The main prayer hall can accommodate 1,000 and its ceiling bears more than 600 classical scriptures in colourful relief.

The hot springs about 22 miles (35km) east of Xi'an city, at the base of the Lishan Mountains, is where the ancient emperors bathed and relaxed in scenic surroundings. The spa has been operating since the days of the Tang Dynasty, and its warm (109°F/43°C) mineral waters, containing lime, sodium carbonate, and sodium sulphate, are still enjoyed by locals and visitors today. The waters are particularly recommended for the treatment of dermatitis, rheumatism, arthritis and muscular pain. The ancient imperial bathing pools can be visited, including the Hibiscus pool, dating from the year 712, which has been restored and is open to the public. There is also a fascinating museum at the site containing building materials from the Tang Dynasty. Another attraction at the Springs is the Hovering Rainbow Bridge. This bridge reflects the sunset in such a way that it appears to be a rainbow.

A group of peasants digging a well north of Mount Lishan in Lintong county, about 18 miles (30km) from Xi'an, in 1974 unearthed fragments of a life-sized warrior figure. Because the site of the discovery was just one mile (2km) from the as yet unexcavated tomb of Chinese emperor Qin Shi Huangdi, who ruled between 246 and 210 BC, archaeologists grew excited. Further excavation revealed several timber-lined vaults filled with thousands of greatly detailed terracotta soldiers and their horses and chariots: an entire army assembled in position to follow Emperor Qin into eternity. The pits containing the army are now open to public viewing and thousands of visitors flock to gaze at the stunning array of figures with their vivid facial expressions.

The Terracotta Army Museum consists of the original pit that was discovered in 1974, which has been enclosed within a hangar-like building to preserve the ranks of 6,000 soldiers found there. A second pit, containing 1,400 figures of cavalrymen, horses and infantrymen, and 90 wooden chariots, is also part of the museum. Visitors can also see Qin's Mausoleum and view almost 100 sacrificial pits containing the skeletons of horses, complete with hay, that were buried with him as well as about 20 tombs holding the remains of his counsellors and retainers. The emperor's tomb itself is under a 249 feet (76m) high mound that has not yet been excavated, but is believed, according to historical records, to have contained rare gems and other treasures.

The graceful complex of buildings that constitute the Shaanxi Provincial History Museum in Xi'an's southern suburbs is built in the style of a Tang Dynasty pavilion, and is in itself worth seeing. The museum's exhibits, however, are even more breathtaking, consisting of 113,000 artefacts unearthed in the province and chronologically arranged in three exhibition halls. The exhibits cover the Han, Wei, Jin, North and South, Sui, Tang, Song, Yuan, Ming and Quing dynasties, as well as the prehistoric and bronze period.

} ());
ACCEPT COOKIESTo give you the best possible experience, this site uses cookies. Using this site means you agree to our use of cookies. We have published a cookies policy, which you should read to find out more about the cookies we use. View cookies policy.