Xian China Walled City – Terracotta Warriors and Horses Museum

Visiting Xian China walled city and the Museum of Terracotta Warriors & Horses was a dream come true for me.

 

Xian Walled City

The city wall of Xian is the most complete and intact city wall in China.

 

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

Ancient city walls of Xian China total 8.5 miles (13.7 km) so it’s a great place to walk or bike ride

 

I don’t recall when I first learned of the ancient city of Xian, 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 guarding the city wall in Xian China

 

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 in Xian 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, and booking completed by somebody else saved me a lot of time. And a negative, I didn’t get to choose anything for myself. I’m pretty good at planning solo travel but I can’t imagine trying to book airfare and hotels for a whole group.

 

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

Masquerading as warrior in Xian China

 

The 10-day tour of China started in the capital city of Beijing and we traveled to Xian 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.

 

Museum of Qin Terracotta Warriors and Horses

We had an excellent tour guide in Xian named Ms Zhou who taught us much about the history of Xian and took us on our tour of the Museum of Qin Terracotta Warriors and Horses. 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 in Xian China

 

The Mausoleum of Emperor Qin, discovered in 1974 by local farmers, is an astounding treasure and unique archaeological site.

 

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

Pit 1 – Terracotta Army – Xian Qin Museum of Terracotta Warriors and Horses

 

The warriors with their chariots and horses were buried with Emperor Qin in 210 BCE 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

 

Great Mosque and Muslim Quarter in Xian

The Great Mosque of Xian is the largest mosque in China. It is located in the Muslim Quarter which is walking distance from the Drum Tower near the center of the walled city.

 

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

The Beiyuanmen Muslim Street is near the Drum Tower in Xian China

 

On our second day we enjoyed an afternoon to wander around on our own in central Xian. This was 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 in Xian China is 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.

Pleased that I remembered the sign and I enjoyed a delicious orange as a snack. Later I tried some fresh squeezed pomegranate juice, reminding me of my visit to Cappadocia region in Turkey.

 

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

Beiyuanmen Muslim Street – Xian China

 

Things to do in Xian

For evening entertainment in Xian attend a theatrical show by the Tang Dynasty Song and Dance Troupe.

 

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

Tang Dynasty theatrical show is an excellent way to spend an evening in Xian China

 

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

 

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

Delicious dumpling banquet at the Tang Dynasty theatrical show in Xian

 

Tour the artisan galleries in Xian with visits to the 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 Xian China

 

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

Making mini clay terracotta warriors in Xian China

 

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

About the Author

Susan Moore spent 7 months traveling around Southeast Asia back in the 90's. Returning to Canada she found a job working on rotation in Siberia Russia. She later moved to Austin Texas where she started a bookkeeping business, allowing her to work remotely. Currently Susan is in year 4 of living a nomadic life, roadtripping around the USA and Canada and writing about her experiences with a focus on hiking and cultural encounters. Read all about Susan » You can reach Susan Moore at Facebook or Twitter or Instagram

22 Replies

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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.

    • 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.

    Leslie

  3. You make an impressive warrior
    ROG

  4. 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. Diane Westwell says:

    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,

    di.x

    • 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.

    • 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!

    • 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.

    • 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!

      Cheers,
      Susan

  11. JeffNourse says:

    China is absolutely stunning and you did an amazing job capturing its beauty!

  12. New You Spa says:

    Looks like an amazing trip! Would love to hear more details about where you stayed in china and the tour guides you used.

    • My trip to China was all arranged by Austin Community College for their Study Abroad program but they don’t do the trip to China anymore. You could contact colleges and universities and ask for recommendations for tour guides. We stayed in budget hotels and it was in 2011, there are many more choices now.

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