The Capital of Shaanxi – Xi’an

Xi’an is a sub-provincial city and the capital of the Shaanxi province located in the People’s Republic of China. It is one of the four oldest cities in the country of China and is considered to be one of the four great ancient capitals of China. Xi’an is at the eastern end of the Silk Road and its name means “Western Palace”. This name is not the original name of the city and it has been known by a variety of names over the years. During the Zhou Dynasty is was known as “Fenghao”. during the Han Dynasty it was known as “Chang’an” and during the Sui Dynasty it was known as “Daxing”. Then during the Tang Dynasty it was renamed as “Chang’an”. It would retain this name for many years before being named Xi’an during the Ming Dynasty.

With the beginning of the Zhou Dynasty, Xi’an became the political and cultural center of China in the eleventh century. It was situated west of the dual capitals of Feng and Hao. The Zhou Dynasty would then go on to place its capital in the city of Xianyang after the Warring States Period. Qin Shi Huang, the first official emperor of China, would then go on to order construction of the Terracotta Army and the mausoleum just east of Xi’an. During the second century, Liu Bang established the capital in Chang’an County and erected the Changle Palace just across the river. This is considered by many historians to be the official founding date of Xi’an. A couple years later Weiyang Palace was constructed just north of Xi’an. A city wall was also begun during this period and the project took over four years to complete. The completed wall measured twenty five kilometers in length and had a thickness of fourteen meters.

After centuries of civil rest, China would once again be united in 582 during the Sui Dynasty. The emperor commanded that a new capital be built to the southeast of Han. The capital was called Daxing and was composed of three distinct sections. The sections included the Imperial City, a civilian quarter and Xi’an Palace. The city was renamed in the Tang Dynasty as Chang’an. The name was then reverted back to Xi’an.

Today, one of the chief economic activities of Xi’an is software development. In fact, the city is one of the main pioneers of the software industry in China with a export value worth over forty-two billion U.S dollars. Another industry that has a record of robust growth in the city is service outsourcing, especially in the business sector. Over the past few years Xi’an has also had very dramatic growth in the tourism industry. This is due to the beauty and cultural richness of the city and its many unique tourist attractions. That city has distinguished itself as one of the most popular tourist locations in all of China.

The most popular, and intriguing attraction in the city of Xi’an is the The Terracotta Army Museum. This museum lies about a mile east of The Tomb of Qin Shihuang. Qin Shihuang was China’s first emperor and he commanded the creation of this incredible model army. Here lies a complete army made completely of terracotta. There are archers, longbowmen, offices and generals. Each one of them originally had their own unique weapon. This army was buried for more then two millenia. They were discovered in 1974 when farmers accidently discovered the first vault. Over the next couple of years the other two vaults were discovered.

Terracotta Army Pit One is six hundred and thirty feet long and one hundred and eighty-six feet wide. It contains over six thousand terracotta soldiers and horses face east. Terracotta Army Pit Two contains four units, each one measuring two hundred and eighty two feet long and two hundred and fifty-two feet wide. The first row contains archers, the second row contains chariots, the third unit is composed of both infantry and chariot units, and the fourth is composed of infantry.

The Exhibition Hall of Qinling Bronze Carriage is another fascinating attraction. Inside are two bronze carriages that were found sixty feet from the Tomb of Qin Shihuang. They are about ten feet long and three feet high. Even though they are mainly composed of bronze, each one contains about seventeen hundred pieces of gold and ornamentation.

Another prominent attraction in the city is Shanxi Provincial Museum. This building covers an area of two hundred and ten thousand feet and is home to over thirty-seven thousand historical artifacts recovered from excavations from all over the Shaanxi Province. Things in the collection include bronzeware, terracotta figures, murals and gold crafted items. The museum is divided into three sections, the General Exhibition Hall, the Local Themes Exhibition Hall and the Temporary Exhibition Hall. The Basic Exhibition Hall covers eighteen thousand square feet and contains over two thousand items. The Theme Exhibition Hall contains over five thousand pieces of porcelain from the Tang and Yuang Dynasties. The Temporary Exhibition Hall, as the name implies, contains works that are at the museum on a temporary basis.

Xi’an Banpo Museum is yet another attraction not to be missed. This site is a Neolithic Matriarchal community of the Yangshao culture and is over six thousand years old. The site occupies fifty thousand kilometers and is divided into three parts, a residential section, pottery making section and cemetery. The ruins contain about forty-six houses, two animal pens, two hundred storage pits, one hundred and seventy-four tombs and six kilns. Also on the site are many tools that were used by the people who lived in the area.

Also located in the city are various restaurants, hotels and cafes. It also contains a lot more tourist attractions which include the Small Wild Goose Pagoda, Drum Tower, Hukou Waterfall, Famen Temple, Huaqing Hot Springs, Fule International Ceramic Art Museums, Gao Courtyard Including Shadow Play, Forest of Stele Museum, Great Mosque, Huajue Xiang and Qianling Tomb.

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