Friday, October 4, 2013

China recap: Xian

The second main stop of our 2012 Chinese Extravaganza trip was Xi'an. 

The main attraction here for us was the Terra Cotta Army, but we were blown away at how much we liked other features of the city as well -- particularly the Muslim Quarter, and we took a memorable trip to Huashan, one of the country's five daoist peaks.

Within the city, the main attractions are the Drum and Bell Towers, as well as several pagodas. 

In order to save the best for last, here are first some random pictures from Xi'an, another huge Chinese city, and then I'll share the Huashan pictures, then the Terra Cotta Army. 


This is the Bell Tower, built in the 17th year of Hongwu of the Ming Dynasty (1384).  There used to be a huge bell in the tower.  It's made of brick and wood and is 1370 square meters, and 36 meters tall.  It's built in the national architecture style typical of the Ming Dynasty.

Bell Tower again: 
And the bell at the Bell Tower: 

A picture of the gate along the city wall: 

The Mosque and the Muslim Quarter: 

Xianyang was best known as the capital of Qin Dynasty with the periphery scattered with mausoleums of emperors and royal families of several dynasties: Yangling Mausoleum of Han Dynasty (Hanyangling), the joint grave of Liu Qi, a notable emperor in Western Han (206 BC-220AD) and Empress Wang; Qianling Mausoleum, the joint tomb of Emperor Gaozong and his empress Wu Zetian, the only woman ruler in Chinese history; Zhaoling Mausoleum, the tomb of the second emperor of Tang and the first Tang imperial tomb built into the mountain. These are all massive burial complexes.

The Yangling Museum, pictures below, was the burial place of Emperor Jingdi, the 4th emperor of the Western Han Dynasty, and his empress Wang.  They were separately buried in the 20 sq. km. mausoleum.  There are a total of 81 burial pits with different burial objects.  In 1998, 10 of the burial pits were excavated and over 10,000 pieces of pottery -- figurines, animals, appliances, granaries, weapons, horses, vehicles, horses, seals and lutes.  From the relics and their positions, researchers believe the satellite pits had certain symbolic meanings representing their different departments of the central government and interior institutions of the palace at the time. 

Here are pictures from the Han Dynasty burial site (had a memory card issue at the others, but I'm sure this gives you the idea...): 


The Banpo Neolithic Village, not a trip I'd recommend to travelers to China.  It is built on the ancient human village relics of Neolithic Yangshao culture.  It was discovered in 1953, and is a typical settlement site at the phase of prosperity of the matriarchal clan commune in the Guanzhong area between 4800 and 4300 BC.  They used earthenware jars to bury children, but the rest had regular coffins: 


Random square in a town on our way to Hua Shan, where we saw the corn in various stages during the day: 

Going up to Hua Shan, one of the coolest things we did near Xi'an.  Mt. Huashan is one of the five sacred mountains in China and is famed for precipitous crags, narrow and steep paths.  We were eager to get out of the cities and see Hua Shan, particularly since it's not a common tourist site.  Little did we know, it is a VERY common tourist site, that thing about being one of the five sacred mountains -- lots and lots of people go there, just not lots of non-Chinese people.  It was so crowded to get up there, and then it was crowded on some of the paths, and then it was insanely crowded when it started raining and everyone was in line to ride back down the mountain: 


And last but not least, the main reason we went to Xi'an -- had to see the Terra Cotta Army.  It was amazing.  My husband definitely said it was one of the coolest things he saw in his life.  I would rank it pretty high too.  We spent the better part of an afternoon visiting the three pits: 


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