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The Tang dynasty built its capital Chang'an 7km/4.5 miles north-west of where Xi'an lies today.
Its defensive walls, 22km/14 miles in length, formed an irregular quadrilateral with twelve gates, each with three entrances. The main gate was reserved for the use of the emperor. The north side of the wall is shaped rather like the Ursa Major constellation, and the south side like Ursa Minor. The town was served by eight main streets and 160 side streets together with large numbers of palaces (none of which survive) and an excellent drainage and sewage system using pentragonal clay pipes.

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On the excavation site, in addition to the remains of the town walls to the south-west, the visitor can still see a large mound of earth which is all that is left of the Han imperial residence, the Palace of Weiyang, around which countless legends have been woven. At one time the palace comprised more than 40 separate buildings, the main one being 183m/600ft long, 164ft wide and 12m/39ft high. During the Tang era (618-907) what is now Xi'an formed a part of Chang'an, which at that time was 37km/23 miles in circumference and had a population of a million or so. The town was divided into two parts. The inner embraced the northern district with the imperial palace and the southern with the seats of government and administration, while the outer part, lying to the east, west and south of the inner districts, was where the ordinary people lived. Its 25 main streets were lined with numerous markets, shops and workshops. Archaeological research indicates that the western section of the town wall was 2656m/2920yd long, the northern 1135m/1248yd and the eastern (divided into three sections) 2610m/2870yd.

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The Forest of Stele is located on the site of the Imperial Collage of Learned Confusian Scholars which was established during the Tang Dynasty. It became a Confusian temple in 1090 AD during the Song Dynasty. It now houses the oldest and richest collection of steles in China. A stele is an upright stone or slab with an inscribed surface. The stele are numerous enough to be likened to a forest, hence the name. This museum consists of six large exhibition halls, seven corridors and a stele pavilion. There are more than 1,000 stele of eight dynasties from the Han down to the Qing. They are of great value to historians and for the study of calligraphic development.


Qin Shi Huang was the founding emperor of the Qin Dynasty. His tomb is on the south bank of the Wei River about three miles east of the country town of Lintong. This is one of China's most important historical sites, and has been named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Begun in 247 B.C., when Qin Shi Huang was enthroned at the age of 13, the mausoleum is in fact a magnificent underground palace. According to records, more than 700,000 people were employed in its construction which took 36 years to complete.

Between 1974 and 1976, three massive vaults were discovered. Vault number one, the largest, contains 6,000 life-size terra-cotta figures of armed warriors and horses. It is 351 yards long from east to west, 68 yards wide from north to south, and 5.47 yards deep, covering an area of 15,601 square yards. The three vaults were determined by archaeologists to be pits for burial objects accompanying the tomb of Qin Shi Huang. In October 1979, an on-site museum was built above vault number one. Since then, two additional structures have been built to cover vaults two and three Ranging from 5 feet 8inches to 6 feet in height, the vivid life-size warrior figures are clad in armor or short gowns belted at the waist, with leggings and tightly-lashed boots. Thier weapons consisted of bows and arrows, swords and spears.


Located a couple of miles south of Xi'an, the Big Goose Pagoda, the city's emblem, was first built in 653 A.D. Xuan Zang, a renowned Buddhist monk who had completed a pilgrimage to India and neighboring countries, proposed that the pagoda be built to store the Buddhist scriptures he had secured during his trip. Xuan Zang was made abbot of the temple where be translated the scriptures into Chinese. From 701 to 704, the five-story pagoda was rebuilt into a seven-story, 331 ft. high structure with stairs winding to the top floor. Built with gray bricks, this pavilion-like pagoda with arched portals on each floor is a masterpiece of Buddhist architecture with a distinct Chinese style.


This temple is near the Big Goose Pagoda, and was built in 707 AD It has 15 stories and is 148 ft. high. It has a fine and delicate style. On the north and south doors are exquisitely-carved ivory designs and Buddhist figures.


Banpo village is a neolithic site is a few miles from Xi'an. The Banpo people settled here some 6,000 years ago. They cultivated their land, built houses, and lived as primitive clan. Five excavations since 1954 have uncovered a village of 45 houses, stone-age pottery, tools, and bones. The site covers an area of 60,000-square yards. It is divided into living quarters, a pottery-making center and a graveyard. The museum built to protect the site covers some 33,400 square feet.

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