Xi’an China the Walled City and Terracotta Warriors & Horses

Ancient city walls of historical Xi'an China in Shaanxi province

Ancient city walls of Xi’an China

Visiting the walled city of Xi’an China and the Museum of Terracotta Warriors & Horses was a dream come true for me. I don’t recall when I first learned of the ancient city of Xi’an, capital of Shaanxi province in China, but I had wanted to travel there for years.

Ancient capital of China - Xi'an - Shaanxi province - gargoyles guarding at city walls

Gargoyles – Xi’an city wall

The opportunity arose when I was studying international business at Austin Community College (ACC) and I heard about the study abroad programs offered by the college.

Magnolia trees begin to bud in March - Xi'an China on the grounds of the Great Mosque of Xi'an

Magnolia buds in late March – Xi’an China

Group travel and tours have never appealed to me but I was willing to try something new in order to fulfill my desire to visit China. All of the planning, scheduling, booking was completed by somebody else which I consider both a positive – I saved time –  and a negative – I didn’t get to choose!

Susan masquerades as warrior ini Xi'an China at the Museum of Qin Terracotta Warriors and Horses

Susan masquerades as warrior in Xi’an China

The 10-day tour of China started in the capital city of Beijing and we traveled to Xi’an via an overnight train. I enjoy train travel and our overnight trip was more enjoyable than taking a tour bus everywhere as we had done in Beijing. I prefer to travel with the local people in order to experience more of the culture. Interacting with locals is a big part of the travel experience for me.

Muslim quarter - The Beiyuan Men Muslim Street near the Drum Tower in Xi'an China

The Beiyuanmen Muslim Street – near the Drum Tower in Xi’an China

On our second day we were given an afternoon to wander around on our own in central Xi’an – a welcome break from the planned events and much more my style of travel. I walked to the nearby Muslim quarter to visit the Great Mosque then walked around exploring the area.

Great Mosque of Xi'an China - near Beiyuanmen Muslim Street in the Muslim quarter

Great Mosque – Xi’an China – near Beiyuanmen Muslim Street

I bought some mandarin oranges from a street vendor and she didn’t speak any English but she held out her hand to signal the price. I knew she was saying 8 yuan because we had learned the hand signals for the numbers 1 through 10 while visiting Beijing. Her face lit up with a big smile when she realized I understood her hand signal and gave her the correct amount of currency. I was pleased that I had remembered and I enjoyed a delicious orange as a snack. I also tried some fresh squeezed pomegranate juice – remembering how delicious it was when I visited Turkey.

Beiyuanmen Muslim Street near the Drum Tower in the ancient walled city of Xi'an China - Shaanxi province

Beiyuanmen Muslim Street – Xi’an China

We had an excellent tour guide  in Xi’an named Ms Zhou who taught us much about the history of Xi’an and took us on our tour of the Museum of Qin Terracotta Warriors and Horses which was a big highlight of my trip to China. The site contains more than 8,000 terracotta soldiers – each unique in appearance – and dozens of chariots and horses.

Historic walled city Xian -  Museum of Qin Terracotta Warriors and Horses

Museum of Qin Terracotta Warriors and Horses – Xi’an China

The Masaleum of Emperor Qin was discovered in 1974 by local farmers – what an astounding treasure to have uncovered!

Pit 1 - Terracotta Army - Xi'an Qin Museum of Terracotta Warriors and Horses - Shaanxi province China

Pit 1 – Terracotta Army – Xi’an Qin Museum of Terracotta Warriors and Horses

The warriors with their chariots and horses were buried with Emperor Qin in 210 BCE and were buried at the site to protect the emperor in the afterlife.

Qin Museum of Terracotta Warriors and Horses - Xi'an - Shaanxi province China

Qin Museum of Terracotta Warriors and Horses

Detail of terracotta warriors at Qin Museum of Terracotta Warriors and Horses in Xi'an China - Shaanxi province

Terracotta warriors detail – each one of the sculptures is unique

Archaeologists catalog each piece at the Qin Museum of Terracotta Warriors & Horses in Xi'an China - Shaanxi province

Archaeologists catalog each piece at the Qin Museum of Terracotta Warriors & Horses

One evening we enjoyed an elaborate theatrical show by the Tang Dynasty Song and Dance Troupe featuring singing, music, and dancing.

Tang Dynasty theatrical show and dumpling banquet features singing, dancing, elaborate costumes

Tang Dynasty theatrical show in Xi’an China

There was also a dumpling banquet dinner – it was delicious! This was one of my favorite meals in China! We enjoyed a variety of fillings in the dumplings formed into various shapes.

Tasty umplings in variety of shapes and flavors in Xi'an China - Shaanxi province

We enjoyed the delicious dumpling banquet at the Tang Dynasty theatrical show

We toured some of the artisan galleries in Xi’an with stops at a rug showroom and a ceramic and lacquer factory.

Silk weaving in Xi'an China - classic and modern designs - Shaanxi province

Weaving silk into an extraordinary rug

Artisan working on lacquer designs in Xi'an China - Shaanxi province

Decorating lacquer designs in Xi’an China

Xi’an China the Walled City and Terracotta Warriors & Horses - making mini terracotta warriors

Xian China – making mini clay terracotta warriors

I would love to revisit Xi’an in order to spend more time exploring this fascinating city on my own! I hope you enjoyed my highlights of Xi’an China and the Terracotta Warriors.

A journey through the alphabet with ABC Wednesday Project where people from around the world create a weekly post – visiting the letter X this week.

About the Author

Susan Moore's first solo travel experience was traveling around SE Asia for 7 months in 1993. It was life changing and extraordinary. Currently Susan is living a nomadic life, working and roadtripping around the USA and Canada. You can reach Susan Moore at Facebook or Twitter


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  1. Hildred says:

    What a wonderful place to visit, – everything quite magnificent, but I was most interested in the weaving of the beautiful silk rug.

    • Susan Moore says:

      Hildred, it takes months to weave some of these magnificent rugs – they are gorgeous to see and touch! I have a client here in Austin that imports rugs from all over the world – some of them take 9 months or more to create.

  2. Leslie says:

    I’ve always been curious about this place so maybe I’ll add it to my bucket list.

    abcw team

  3. Roger Green says:

    You make an impressive warrior

  4. Amit Agarwal says:

    Great post with wonderful pics! Loved it:)

  5. Hazel says:

    China is such an interesting country! It’s on my bucket list. A friend once sent me a photo he took of the Terracotta Army.

  6. I didn’t realise the Terracotta Warriors were life size, fascinating reading and what a fantastic trip.. I was totally glued to this and was drooling at the sight of the dumplings, great stuff,


    • Susan Moore says:

      Diane, yes they are actually super-size life size as they are all at least 6 foot tall – much taller than Emperor Qin’s actual soldiers! i was going to go into more detail about the Terracotta army but quickly realized that I need to devote a whole post to the subject – I shall get to work on it soon!

  7. Nana Jo says:

    I saw a documentary about the Terracotta Army once and ever since then, have wanted to see it. Your post contains all the elements of great travel writing; culture, art, history, beauty and a sense of connection which communicates itself to the mind and heart of the reader. Thank you.

    • Susan Moore says:

      Thank you for your kind words Nana Jo! Hope you get to Xi’an to see the Terracotta Army – it is an exceptional place. Of the places I have been to in China so far Xi’an is by far my favorite!

  8. Tina says:

    Such a nice post. China & particularly Xian is in my to travel list and I hope to do it sometime

  9. Catherine says:

    Have been really intrigued by Xi’an since my parents went to China – they went to a lot of the main cities but were adamant that xi’an was by far the best. I love this little overview of your time their, I’m even more keen to visit now!

    • Susan Moore says:

      Thank you Catherine! Xi’an was my favorite as well, although I still have plenty more travel to do in China. I plan to visit Xi’an again and spend more time there. I hope you get to Xi’an soon!
      Happy travels :)

  10. Jazlyn Coahran says:

    Hi I’m thirteen and am in Foley Middle School. We are learning about China and would like to know if you have ever made a mini terra cotta warrior.

    • Susan Moore says:

      Hi Jazlyn, I have not made a mini terracotta warrior but that would be a cool project! In Xi’an China I did see artisans making some miniature terracotta warriors – I found the photo and added it to this blog post for you. I hope you enjoy learning about China at Foley Middle School – thanks for visiting my blog!


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