SIGHTS IN XIAN: ITS WALL, MUSLIM QUARTER AND OLD TOWN AND PAGODAS

SIGHTS IN XIAN

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Small Wild Goose Pagoda
Sights in Xian include the Temple of the Recumbent Dragon. Xi An Glory International Financial Center in Xian is the 75th tallest building in the world. (as of 2020). Completed in 2017, it is 350 meters (1,148 feet) tall and has 75 floors. [Source: Wikipedia]

Xian's Old Town (near the South Gate of the City Wall) has been spruced up for tourist to the point it resembles part of a theme park. The main street is lined with lantern poles, banners, and red and yellow paper balls. The wood-railed balconies are strung with outdoor lights. Sanxue Jia is a cobblestone street that runs for half a mile. It is surrounded by hundreds of Old Town shops selling ceramics, paint brushes, tea cups, colorful wooden charms, soft drinks, T-shirts, silk embroideries, folk crafts and rubbings of carved stone monuments. The traditional brick and wood houses feature carved lintels, upturned roof cornices and wooden shop signs. Artists produce wonderful calligraphy and signature stamps carved from soapstone

Muslim Quarter (beside the Drum Tower) is a lively shopping and entertainment area with some of the best food, some say, in all of China. It is comprised of many old alleys and measures roughly a square kilometer in area .Ligaya Mishan wrote in the New York Times: “It has been home to generations of the city’s Hui, members of one of China’s 56 officially recognized ethnic groups and the largest of the country’s 10 Muslim minority communities. (As of China’s last census, in 2010, there were 10.5 million Hui nationwide.) Hui is an inexact label for a people that comprises many sects, scattered across the country, with no language of their own.What they share is an ancestry often traced back to the first Muslim Arabs and Persians to enter China during the Tang Dynasty (618-906), as merchants and, in the northwest, as mercenary warriors sent by the Abbasid Caliphate (A.D. 750-1258) to help quash the An Lushan Rebellion. “I think of this as I walk the knotted streets of the Muslim Quarter, trying to listen. [Source: Ligaya Mishan, New York Times, May 11, 2020]

Silk Road Sites in Xian

Silk Road Sites in Xian: 1) Site of the Chang'an City of Han Dynasty (206 B.C. to A.D. 220)-Xian City (Coordinates: N 34 17 29-34 21 15, E 108 50 38-108 54 51); 2) ) Site of the Chang'an City of Tang Dynasty (618-906)-Xian City (Coordinates: N 34 17-18 30, E 108 56 30-58 30); 3) Dagoba of Kumarajiva-Xian City (Coordinates: N 34 16-34 17, E 108 44-108 45); 4) Xingjiao Temple Pagoda (Xuan Zang's Dagoba)-Xian City; 5) ) Xian Mosque (Coordinates: N34 06 34 E108 05 30); 6) Daqin Monastery Pagoda (Coordinates: N34 15 00 E108 31 00).

The Western Han Han (206 B.C. - A.D. BC–9) built their capital of Chang'an (meaning "Perpetual Peace") on southern side of the Wei River in an area that roughly corresponds with the central area of present-day Xi'an. During the Eastern Han (A.D. 25–220), Chang'an was also known as Xijing ("Western Capital") as the main capital at Luoyang was to the east.

The remains of Han-era Chang'an, including a mint, kilometers of mud-and-brick city walls punctuated with gates, several imperial palaces, and a variety of other official buildings and residences, have been unearthed under modern Xian'. Han Dynasty cash coins—known as wu zhu coinage— are quite plentiful despite being over 2,000 years old. The reason for this is that billions of them were produced at a massive Han Dynasty mint in Shanglinyuan from brick and clay molds. The ruins of Shanglinyuan are a kilometers miles from Xian. [Source: Richard Geidroyc, World Coin News, December 11, 2012 *=*]

Xingjiao Temple (Shaoling Yuan, Chang'an District of Xi'an) is a five-storied Buddhist relic pagoda, preserving the relics of Xuanzang, which are inside the temple, along with the pagodas of his disciples, Kuiji and Yuance. Xingjiao Temple was built in AD 669 to reinhume Xuanzang and was one of eight famed temples in Fanchuan in Tang Dynasty. Although the original Tang Dynasty stone pagoda is still standing, the temple was burnt to the ground at Tongzhi years in Qing Dynasty. It was rebuilt during the period of the Republic of China. [Source: Wikipedia]

Great Mosque of Xian is one of the of the oldest and biggest mosques in China, Built on A.D. 742, it is used today by 60,000 Xian Muslims. The mosque has been enlarged, vandalized, torn down and rebuilt many times over the centuries. During the Cultural Revolution it was reportedly used to house pigs.

Daqin Pagoda (Zhouzhi County of Xi'an) is a Buddhist pagoda located about two kilometers to the west of Louguantai temple. The pagoda has been controversially claimed as a Nestorian Christian church from the Tang Dynasty. Daqin is the ancient Chinese name for the Roman Empire or the Near East, especially Syria. Daqin Pagoda was first described in 1064, when the Chinese poet Su Shi visited it and wrote a well-known poem about it, "Daqin Temple". His younger brother Su Zhe also wrote an "echoing" poem referring to the monks at the temple. An earthquake severely damaged the pagoda in 1556 and it was finally abandoned. Due to the earthquake, many of the underground chambers of the complex are no longer reachable. The seven-storeyed octagonal brick pagoda is about 32 meters high. Each side of the first storey measures 4.3 meters.

In 2001 the pagoda was claimed by Martin Palmer, the translator of several popular books on Sinology, including Zhuangzi and I Ching, as a form of Christianity from the Tang Dynasty, in his controversial book The Jesus Sutras. According to Palmer, the church and the monastery were built in 640 by early Nestorian missionaries. Supporters of Palmer's claims have drawn attention to details which suggest that the monastery was earlier a Christian church, including a supposed depiction of Jonah at the walls of Nineveh, a nativity scene (depiction of the birth of Jesus) and Syriac graffiti. The east-facing orientation of the complex is also advanced as evidence of its Christian origin since Chinese Daoist and Buddhist temple complexes face north or south. As a potential stimulus to the district's tourist trade, Palmer's claims have been given wide publicity by the local authorities. Despite the publicity they have received, Palmer's claims are controversial, and have been dismissed by many scholars.

Daming Palace Site

Daming Palace Site (78 Xuanwu Road, northeast Xian) was the imperial palace complex of the Tang Dynasty (618-906), serving as the imperial residence of the Tang emperors for more than 220 years. The site has been rebuilt and was opened to the public in 2010. About two thirds of the park is free to get in. The other one third features cultural heritages and exhibition and requires the payment of an admission fee. Daming Palace was the grandest and most significant palace complex in Chang'an (Xian) during Tang Dynasty. It was where Tang emperors lived, dealt with state affairs and met with officials. It is not so impressive looking today. Most of the site consists of foundations and platforms with a few models.

Daming Palace (also known as Hanyuan Palace, Yuan Palace and Penglai Palace) was the main palace, where grand ceremonies were held. It was also an important international exchange center. On every New Year's Day, ambassadors from various countries came and participated in the grand ceremonies held here. The majestic palace not only reflects Tang Dynasty (618-906)'s prosperity, but also represents the highest architectural level of that time. It is said that the Forbidden City in Beijing was built after the layout of Daming Palace.

Daming Palace was built in the early 7th century not long after the Tang Dynasty came to power. The former royal residence was Taiji Palace, built by the previous Sui dynasty. Chang’an suffered from humidity, dampness and heat during the summer and location of Taiji Place was deemed too inhospitable because it was built on low-lying lands. In 634, Emperor Taizong launched the construction of the Daming Palace at Longshou Plateau as a summer palace for his retired father, Emperor Gaozu, as an act of filial piety. Emperor Gaozu grew ill and never witnessed the palace's completion before his death in 635, and construction halted. Empress Wu commissioned the court architect Yan Liben to design the palace and construction commenced once again in 662. In 663, the construction of the palace was completed under the reign of Emperor Gaozong. Emperor Gaozong had launched the extension of the palace with the construction of the Hanyuan Hall. In 663, the imperial family relocated from the Taiji Palace into the yet to be completed Daming Palace, which became the new seat of the imperial court and political center of the empire. [Source: Wikipedia]

Location: 78 Xuanwu Road; Admission: 60 yuan; Tel:+86 29 86708192 Getting There: Bus 2, 216, 262 to Tongjia Lane; Bus 16, 17, 22, 38, 46, 104, 209, 801 to Taihua Road

Components of Daming Palace Site

"Three Great Halls" — Hanyuan Hall, Xuanzheng Hall, and Zichen Hall — were respectively part of the outer, middle, and inner court, beginning from the south and ending in the north, on the central axis. The central southern entrance of Daming Palace is the Danfeng Gate. The gate consisted of five doorways. After passing through the Danfeng Gate, there is a square of 630 meters long with at the end Hanyuan Hall. [Source: Wikipedia]

Hanyuan Hall was connected to pavilions — namely the Xiangluan Pavilion in the east and the Qifeng Pavilion in the west — by corridors. The pavilions were composed of three outward-extending sections of the same shape but different size that were connected by corridors. The elevated platform of Hanyuan Hall is approximately 15 meters high, 200 meters wide, and 100 meters long. Hanyuan Hall served as the main hall for hosting foreign ambassadors during diplomatic exchanges and was where many state ceremonies were conducted.

Xuanzheng Hall (300 meters north of the Hanyuan Hall) is where state affairs were usually conducted. The office of the secretariat was located to the west of Xuanzheng Hall and the office of the chancellery was located to the east. From this area, the Tang bureaucracy — the Three Departments and Six Ministries system, the Department of State Affairs, the Chancellery, and the Secretariat — handled the central management of the Tang empire.

Zichen Hall (in the Inner Court) is approximately 95 meters north of the Xuanzheng Hall. It housed the central government offices. For officials, it was considered a great honor to be summoned to Zichen Hall. Taiye Pool, also known as the Penglai Pool, is north of Zichen Hall. The former gardens that surround the pond and island have been recreated, based on the historical record, with peony, chrysanthemum, plum, rose, bamboo, almond, peach, and persimmon gardens.

Linde Hall (the west of Taiye Poo) served as a place for banquets, performances, and religious rites. It consisted of three halls—a front, middle, and rear hall—adjacent to each other. An imperial park was located north of the palace complex. The Sanqing Hall was located in the northeast corner the Daming Palace and served as a Taoist temple for the imperial family.

Xian City Wall

City Wall of Xian (center of Xian City) is the most complete ancient city in China. Built in the 14th century during the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644) and amazingly well preserved today, it is laid out in a rectangle around central Xian and is eight miles long, 12 meters high, 12 meters wide at the top and 15 to 18 meters wide at the bottom. Each side has a gate, on top of which are main towers, watchtowers, medieval-style crenelation, sentry posts, and windows designed for crossbows. The North Gate has red beams and a large arched roof and looks like a temple,

The entire perimeter of the wall is surrounded by a moat where you can fish for carp if you like. Restored between 1986 and 1995, the wall can be climbed for an admission price of 80 cents during the day and US$2.90 at night. Traffic zooms in and out of the gates, especially near the train station. In some places there are souvenir stands in yellow yurts, amusement rides and mechanical tableaus represented Chinese myths.

Xian City Wall: Through the centuries, most major cities in China — particularly capital cities — were well-fortified with walls and watchtowers. But today most have, at best, only remnants of their once-mighty fortifications. Xian is an exception, with an entire 9-mile rectangle of 14th century walls, watchtowers and gates intact. The 40-foot-high walls afford terrific views of the city below, and make for an easy-if sometimes crowded-bike ride around the circumference.

The existing Xian City Wall is 13.74 kilometers in circumference. There are four main gates on the wall, and each gate has an arrow tower and a gate-tower. The city wall is surrounded by a moat. Construction of the first city wall of Xian began in 194 B.C. and lasted for four years. The City Wall has 18 gates, which are all open to tourists to ascend the wall. From these gates you can reach the top of the wall and walk, it is said, along its entire length.

Admission: 40 yuan; Hours Open: 8:00am to 9:30pm (spring and summer); 8:00am to 7:00pm (fall and winter), Tel:+86 29 87282976. Getting There: Bus 6, 11, 12, 23, 46, 215, 239, 302, 600, 603, 608, 713, 910, K600, K618 to South Gate; Bus 8, 22, 27, 29, 33, 37, 43, 45, 102, 203, 218, 232, 235, 252, 300, 527, 602, 604, 714, 903 to East Gate; Bus 6, 26, 28, 33, 37, 39, 104, 107, 117, 205, 206, 208, 214, 216, 229, 236, 238, 310, 336, 506, 511 to North Gate; Bus 4, 10, 15, 23, 31, 201, 205, 206, 215, 221, 222, 223, 300, 302, 407, 504, 611, 701, K630 to West Gate.

History of the City Wall of Xian

City Walls of the Ming and Qing Dynasties were nominated to be a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2008. According to a report submitted to UNESCO: “The city wall of the Xian City is located at the urban district of Xian City, Shaanxi Province. It had been built from the 3rd to the th year of Hongwu period of the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644) (1370-1378). It was extended on the base of Chang'an imperial city of the Sui and Tang Dynasty (618-906), as well as the Fengyuan City of the Yuan Dynasty (1279–1368). [Source: State Administration of Cultural Heritage, People’s Republic of China]

“In the year of 370, Zhu Yuanzhang sent out imperial decree to build Xian City. The city wall Xian then utilized the old ramparts of the imperial cities of the Sui and Tang Dynasties at the west and south parts, and extended about /3 to the east and north. It had lasted for eight years, which established the basic structure and scale of the Xian City wall.

Xian city wall had been maintained well through Ming and Qing Dynasties, with several times reparation, 1 of which were of relatively large scale. The original Xian city wall was only made of tamped earth. In the 2nd year of the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644) Longqing Period (1568), blue bricks were laid on the top and external side of the walls. In the 46th year of the Qing Dynasty (1644–1911) Qianlong Period (1781), the second large-scale maintenance was made. Drainage and crenels, etc were added at this time. The structure of the present city wall of Xian mostly came from this reparation. In year 1983, Xian's municipal government went through another comprehensive maintenance for the city wall. Part of the building was recovered, such as 1 Yangmacheng (tower where the late sheep and horses can rest at night), 1 Zhalou (the sluice tower), 1 Kuixinglou (the dipper tower), 3 Jiaolou (corner tower) and 3 Dilou (defence tower). The breaking parts of the rampart were changed into gates, and the moat was restored. In May 2005, the Xian ramparts were all connected. rampart is of typical representativeness.

Bell Tower and Drum Tower

Bell Tower (in the center of Xian) is one of the symbol of Xian city. First constructed in the 17th year of the Hongwu reign (1384) of the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644), it is one of the largest, most magnificent and best-preserved architectural structures of the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644) in China. The Bell Tower has three layers of eaves on the external carved beams, and pointed tops on the four corners. The whole building is covered with color patterns, with gilded or colored drawings, painted beams and carved pillars inside. A six-meter-high top plated with gold sits on a glazed louts throne at the top of the Bell Tower, displaying the unique architectural art of the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644).

The Drum Tower and Bell Tower are located near each other in the heart of Xian, and are called sister buildings. The Bell Tower once marked the geographical center of the ancient capital. In 1582, it was moved a kilometer east. The tower is made of brick and timber and almost 40 meters high. During the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644), Xian was an important military town in Northwest China, a fact reflected in the size and historic significance of its bell tower.

Drum Tower (30 meters west of the Bell Tower) faces south and echoes with the Bell Tower. The Drum Tower got its name from a huge drum in the tower, which was beat at sunset to indicate the end of the day in Ming-era China. Built in the 13th year of the Hongwu reign (1380) of the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644), the two-story Drum Tower is 33 meters high, with triple eaves and a hip roof. The Drum Tower in Xian is the largest drum tower in China. The Drum Tower offers a great view of Xian. The drums were used to mark time and on occasion used to raise an alarm in emergency situations. In 1996, a new drum was put into the Drum Tower. It is the biggest drum in China. The Drum Tower also has a museum with regular musical performances. Tel:0086-29-8727-4580

Admission: The Bell Tower and Drum Tower are 27 yuan each, or 40 yuan for a joint ticket Hours Open: 8:00am to 10:00pm (April to October); 8:00am to 5:30pm (November to March), Tel:+86 29 87288397, Tel:0086-29-87214665 Getting There: Bus 4, 6, 7, 8, 15, 32, 43, 45, 201, 205, 206, 215, 218, 221, 222, 251, 300, 604, 611, 612, K630 to Bell Tower.

Gao Fu

Gao Fu (near Muslim Street) is 400-year-old estate house nestled in the heart of Xian and is a good example of the city's old architectural style. Victor Paul Borg wrote in the China Daily: “I walked down the brashly commercial "Muslim Street" in Xian's town center, a gauntlet of souvenir shops, dull restaurants, neon lights and voracious touts. Then I ducked into an open red door and found myself in a different world. The cacophonies of commerce were gone, the tranquility had a solemn quality, delicate music from a zither wafted throughout and old buildings basked in the dim light. It was the Gao Fu, the contemplative and quietest place in the city, and sophisticated specimen of Xian's new wave of tourist sights that are being nurtured under the auspices of the local government's Royal City Restoration Plan.

“The estate was originally built 400 years ago by Gao Yuesong, a man who in his short life-he died at 31-rose to prominence in the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644) as an artist and thinker. Then it continued to grow under seven generations of Gao's descendents, who carried the same mantle of intellectual eminence and who continued the family tradition of hosting thinkers as advisors and artists-in-arms. Now the 86-room Gao Fu belongs to Yang Shuanglin, a wealthy philanthropist who worked with the Sino Norway Historical Districts Protection Program to restore the house and open it as a historic building, no matter the cost. "I don't want to turn the house into a restaurant or a hotel and I don't measure success by numbers of tourists," Yang told me in his studio, the room where he spent most of his time painting traditional Chinese landscapes. "Commercialization has destroyed too many historic buildings and I want to protect this treasure as it was. It's running at a loss but that's fine with me."

“The house is a rare example of Xian's old architectural style of designing expansive estates-or "yards" in the traditional architectural lexicon-around four courtyards. Yet Yang was speaking of a quality that transcends the sum of architectural wealth. It's like an aura, and it is engendered by the two facets of the estate "as it was". On the one hand the household was disciplined, with each room assigned a strict role-rooms have titles such as men's reception, women's reception, girls' room, boys' room and "introspection room", where unruly boys were punished. On the other hand a sweeping fantasy is conjured by the finesse of the traditional architecture, the elegant stone carvings and the flow of the inter-connecting courtyards.

“These two juxtapositions are a mirror of the creative process, the way the fantasy of the creator is channeled by the discipline employed during the rendition. This experience enriches visitors and perhaps fostered the former occupants' intellectual incandescence, an experience that would be lost in the distractions of a commercial establishment.

“Only traditional arts find a home in Gao Fu. Yang is vice president of Xian's Traditional Painting Institute and one room in the house displays paintings by its members. These add another layer to the artistic riches, complementing the old furniture that is modest and elegant (the furniture was sourced from private collections after the original furniture was destroyed in the "cultural revolution"). Yang paints traditional landscapes, mostly done in charcoal-color ink, depicting mountains, gushing waterfalls, flocks of birds, the odd peasantry farmhouse, bamboo and anthropomorphic trees-paintings that are claustrophobic but simultaneously heavenly and exquisite. "I have been painting since I was 12 and it's my only passion," Yang said. "Each time I complete a painting, which takes 8 hours, I feel a pride akin to protecting my homeland, like a soldier stationed at a remote frontier."”

“The house also has a theater and I paid a mere 5 yuan to watch a shadow puppet show. It dramatized a peasant love scene and the excellent execution-the timbre of the high-pitched oration, the thumping and flighty music of the drum and the erhu (the two-stringed violin-like traditional instrument), and the vivacious movements of the puppets-left me feeling the emotional force of unconsummated love. Afterwards I sat in the courtyard sipping tea (served at a tiny teahouse), and in the quiet house, with the music from the zither fluttering around my ears like butterflies, I felt my mind still and lost in thought. By the time I left the house I felt comprehensively refreshed.”

Giant Wild Goose Pagoda

Giant Wild Goose Pagoda (in Da Ci'en Temple in the southern part of Xian, six kilometers south of the Bell Tower) is one of the most well-known tourist sight in Xian city. Built in A.D. 652 during the Tang Dynasty (618-906) and set on 190-foot-high hill, it is seven stories high and slightly pyramidal in shape and contains 657 Buddhist scriptures, some brought to China from India in ancient times. Big Wild Goose Pagoda and Little Wild Goose Pagoda (built between 707 and 709) are the most important Tang structures in Xian. They used to dominate the city but now they are lost is sea of concrete block buildings and construction projects.

Originally the Giant Wild Goose Pagoda, also called the Greater Wild Goose Pagoda and the Big Wild Goose Pagoda, had five stories. In 701, five more stories were added and it became a 10-story pagoda. Later it was damaged in a war and reduced to seven stories left. In the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644), the pagoda was renovated and covering it with a layer of bricks. Daci’en Temple is where Buddhist scriptures brought from India by the pilgrim Xuan Zhuang (600-663) were kept and where Xuan Zhuang translated the Buddhist sutras. These sutras occupy a very important position in Chinese Buddhist history. Since ancient times, important religious services have been conducted at Da Ci’en Temple.

Big Wild Goose Pagoda is well preserved and has become one of the emblems of Xian. Regular music shows are performed in Da Ci'en Temple’s square's fountain area . Some parks and Western restaurants are nearby. Admission: 50 yuan entrance fee; 30 yuan to climb pagoda Hours: 8:00am to 5:00pm; Tel:+86 29 85535014; Getting There: Bus 5, 19, 21, 23, 24, 34, 41, 44, 109, 224, 237, 242, 400, 408, 501, 521, 526, 527, 601, 606, 701 to Big Wild Goose Pagoda.

Lesser Wild Goose Pagoda (three kilometers northwest of Greater Wild Goose Pagoda, two kilometers south of the Bell Tower) lies within the compound of Jianfu Temple. This Pagoda is smaller than the Greater Wild Goose Pagoda in the Daci’en Temple, hence the name. First constructed in the Jinlong reign (707-710) of Emperor Zhongzong of the Tang Dynasty (618-906), it is a square brick structure with multi-layer eaves. Originally, the Lesser Wild Goose Pagoda had 15 stories, but now it has only 13stories after many earthquakes.

Tang Paradise

Tang Paradise (next to Big Wild Goose Pagoda) is China's first large-scale royal garden that presents the styles and features of the Tang Dynasty (618-906) . Also known as the Lotus Garden, it covers a total area of 1,000 mu (66.7 hectares), among which 300 mu is water. The park is the largest theme park in the northwestern region of China and one of several modern reconstructions of ancient sites in Shaanxi.

Tang Paradise consists of 12 theme culture zones which include emperor, poetry, food, tea culture, religion, dance, imperial examinations and science, demonstration of the history and culture of the Tang Dynasty (618-906). Not only is it the largest architectural park in China, it is the largest architectural park in the world. One of its main attractions a water screen on which visitors watch movies. This creates a special kind of optical effect which makes the frame three-dimensional. As you watch the movie, you can enjoy the beautiful night scene and the fan-like water surface becoming an ingenious integration

Tang Paradise contains a number of Tang-style structures, such as Ziyun Building, Wangchun Pavilion, Fengming Jiutian Theater and Imperial Banquet Palace. There are performances of Tang songs, ceremonies and dances. The water-screen film is set in the Tang Dynasty and aims to help visitors enter the gloriousness world of that time. The movie begins at 8:40pm every night. There are many dances during festivals. The food zone features classic Tang Dynasty Emperor Dishes, local foods and regular dishes and snacks.

Location: 99 Furong West Road, Qujiang New District; Admission: 90 yuan (March to November); 68 yuan (December to February). Hours Open: 9:00am to 9:00pm; Tel:+86 29 85511888. Getting There: bus No. 21, 22, 23, 24, 601, 610, 609, 237, 715, 212, K619, 720 and 907 and get off at the Tang Paradise West Gate (Da Tang Fu Rong Yuan Xi Men) Station or Tang Paradise South Gate.

National Museum of Shaanxi

National Museum of Shaanxi (northwest of the Giant Wild Goose Pagoda in a relatively new building south of Xian's city wall) contains an impressive central display of 39 Tang Dynasty (618-906) frescoes removed from the walls of the royal tombs. These murals, which are up to 1,400 years old, contain images of Tang Dynasty (618-906) musicians, dancers, and court eunuchs, rendered in pale oranges, reds and blues. Upstairs in the Emperor Qin exhibit are five terra-cotta soldiers, which can be observed up close and their details can better be appreciated. The display cases are well lighted and there are plenty of signs in English.

National Museum of Shaanxi used to be called the Provincial Museum of Shaamxi. Within the six exhibition rooms and seven galleries are silk scraps from the Silk Road era; regiments of tri-colored Tang-dynasty horses; exquisite ancient bronzes; two miniature armies; vivid frescoes; and the world's oldest seismograph, which is shaped like a punch bowl. There is also a superb collection of calligraphy, dating from 200 B.C. to the reign of the Last Emperor. Shaanxi History Museum opened in 1992.. Its displays were poorly lighted and few signs were in English.

The National Museum of Shaanxi has a collection of 115000 items, including bronze wares, Tang wall mural from royal tombs, pottery figurines, building materials of past dynasties, bronze mirrors of the Han and the Tang dynasties, gold, silver, and jade wares, coins and paper currencies, pottery and porcelain articles of past centuries, scroll painting, calligraphy, rare books, Buddhist Sutras, fabrics, bone and stone artifacts, articles of wood, lacquerware, ironware, imperial and royal seals, lutes, smelting materials, and articles those related to folk customs. Location: 91 Xiaozai Donglu, Xi;an,Shaanxi, Tel:0086-29-5254727

Forest of Stelaes Museum

Forest of Stelaes (15 Sanxue Street, near the Drum Tower) is the finest collection of carved stone monuments in China. Among the 2,300 stelaes and tablets in the stele pavilion are a stele recording the history of Christianity in China; the "Kaicheng Stone Classics;" and the "Classics of Filial Piety" and a complete text of the Ancient Confucian Classics carved in stone in A.D. 837. The "Kaicheng Stone Classics" alone consists of 144 stelaes containing 650,000 inscriptions.

Founded on the original Xian Forest of Steles of more than 900 years’ standing, the museum has extended its size and scale, and is housed in the centuries-old Xian Confucian Temple compound in order to collect, study and display many more inscribed steles, tombstones, and sculptured figurines. The museum has a collection of 11,000 items of priceless relics and 11 exhibition halls to display inscribed tablets, sculpture art of past dynasties, and other relics.

Forest of Stone Steles Museum (Xian Beilin Museum), initially established in 1087 during the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1279), is the largest and oldest museum of steles in China. Its a large collection of 3,000 steles extends from the Han Dynasty (206 B.C. to A.D. 220) to the Qing Dynasty (1644–1911). These stone steles record the development of Chinese culture and cultural exchanges between China and other countries.

The original purpose of the was to preserve and display two classics, The Thirteen Classics and Classic on Filial Piety (Shitai Xiao Jing Steles). Then, after many dynasties' worth of collecting, the museums holdings became larger and larger. It became known as the Stele Forest during the Qing Dynasty (1644–1911). The modern version of the museum was christened Xian Beilin Museum in 1992. Covering an area of 31,900 square meters, Beilin consists of a Confucian temple, the Stele Forest and the Stone Carving Art room. There are 11 exhibition rooms that display works of calligraphy, paintings and other historical records. Most of the museums exhibits focus on Tang Dynasty (618-906) steles. Just before the first display room, one can find the tablet pavilion that was specially built for the classic, Classic on Filial Pierty.

Location: 15 Sanxue Street; Admission: 45 yuan (March to November); 30 yuan (December to February), Students and soldiers receive a 50 percent discount on tickets. Guides cost 50 yuan; Tel :+86 29 87210764; 86-29-7282184; Hours Open: 8:00am to 6:45pm (March to November, last entry 6:00pm); 8:00am to 6:00pm (December to February, last entry 5:15pm). Getting There: Bus 14, 208, 402, 512, 223, 704 or tourism bus No. 6 to Wen Chang Men

Image Sources: Wikimedia Commons, Nolls China Web site; CNTO; Perrochon photo site; Beifan.com; University of Washington; Ohio State University; UNESCO; Wikipedia; Julie Chao photo site

Text Sources: CNTO (China National Tourist Organization), China.org, UNESCO, reports submitted to UNESCO, Wikipedia, Lonely Planet guides, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, National Geographic, China Daily, Xinhua, Global Times, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Bloomberg, Reuters, Associated Press, AFP, Compton's Encyclopedia and various books and other publications.

Updated in July 2020


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