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Xian Ancient City Wall

Xian Ancient City Wall


Xian City Wall was enlarged in the Ming Dynasty (1374-1378) on the basis of the inner city wall of the Sui & the Tang Dynasties (581AD -907AD).

Xian City Wall is the most complete city wall that has survived in China, as well being one of the largest ancient military defensive systems in the world. After the extension, the wall now stands 12 meters (40 feet) tall, 12-14 meters (40-46 feet) wide at the top and 15-18 meters (50-60 feet) thick at the bottom. It covers 13.7 kilometers (8.5 miles) in length with a deep moat surrounding it. Every 120 meters, there is a rampart which extends out from the main wall. All together, there are 98 ramparts on the wall, which were built to defend against the enemy climbing up the wall. Each rampart has a sentry building, in which the soldiers could protect the entire wall without exposing themselves to the enemy.

Xian City Wall was erected in the 14th century Ming Dynasty, under the regime of Emperor Zhu Yuanzhang. When Zhu Yuanzhang captured Huizhou, long before the establishment of the Ming Dynasty, he was admonished by a hermit named Zhu Sheng, who told him to "build high walls, store abundant provisions and take your time in proclaiming yourself emperor." This advice Zhu Yuanzhang heeded. Once the whole country was unified, he sent orders to the local governments to build city walls on a large scale. Zhu assured that "out of all the mountains and rivers in the world, the area of Central Qin is the most strongly fortified and strategically impregnable." The current city wall is an enhancement of the old Tang Dynasty structure, as a result of the emperor's wall building campaign.

The first city wall of Xian was built of clay, rammed layer upon layer. The base layer was made of earth, quick lime, and glutinous rice extract, tamped together. It made the wall extremely strong and firm. Later, the wall was totally enclosed with bricks. A moat, wide and deep, ran around the city. Over the moat, there used to be a huge drawbridge, which would cut off the way in and out of the city, once lifted.

Xian city wall, after its enlargement in the Ming Dynasty, stands 12 meters high. It is 12-14 meters across the top, 15-18 meters thick at bottom, and 13.7 kilometers in length. There is a rampart every 120 meters. The ramparts are towers that extend out from the main wall. The ramparts were built to allow soldiers to see enemies who trying to climb the wall. The distance between the ramparts is within the range of arrows fired from either side. This allowed soldiers to protect the entire wall without exposing themselves to the enemy. There are altogether 98 ramparts; each has a sentry building on top of it.

The gates of the city wall were the only ways to go into and out of town. Therefore, these gates were important strategic points, which the feudal rulers racked their brains to try to defend. In Xi'an Ancient City Wall, the north, south, east and west gates, each consist of three towers: the gate tower, which holds the drawbridge, the arrow tower and the main tower. The gate tower stands proud of the wall. It is used to lift and lower the drawbridge. The arrow tower is in the middle. Its inner walls have square windows where soldiers position from to shoot the enemies'. The main tower is the inner most one, which was used as the headquarters of the division of the army.

The arrow tower and the main tower are connected by walls, which formed a small opening area like a trap. As a Chinese saying goes: "Catch a turtle in a Jar. Which means shooting the fish a barrel". The soldiers above the wall could shoot the enemies down below easily.

There are gradually ascending steps and ramps along the wall out of the gates, made so that it was easy for war horses to ascend and descend. There are all together 11 horse passages around the city.

A watch tower is located on each of the four corners of the wall. The one at the southwestern corner is in round shape, probably after the model of the imperial city wall of the Tang Dynasty, but the other three are square-shaped. On top of the watch towers there is a corner rampart, higher and larger than the ordinary ramparts. This shows the strategic importance of the corners of the city wall in war times.

Along the outer crest of the city wall there are crenellations or battlements. Under each of the 5,984 crenels there is a square hole, from which arrows were shot and watch was kept. The lower, inner walls are called parapets. They were used to prevent soldiers from falling off the wall, when traveling back and forth.


A circular park has been built along the high wall and the deep moat. The thriving trees and flowers decorate the classical Chinese architecture of the wall, adding additional beauty to the city of Xi'an.

 

Travel tips

1. Ascending the City Wall:
Encircling the rectangle city center of Xi'an, the City Wall today has 18 city gates, which are all open for tourists to ascend the wall. Visitors can ascend the City Wall from the nearest city gate according to your location. No matter which gate you choose, you can tour the whole circle of the wall if you like.

The South Gate (Yongning Gate) is the most time-honored and magnificent one among all the city gates, so it is popular for tourist to ascend the city wall from here. If you stay near the Bell Tower, it is recommended that you take a 10 minutes' walk along the South Street to get to the South Gate. If you are at the X'ian Railway Station, you can choose the nearest Shangde Gate to ascend the wall.


Hanyuan Gate: There are an Xi'an Ancient City Wall museum at Hanyuan Gate, where you can see the ruins of the Ancient Hanyuan Gate built in the different dynasties and the different layers of wall built in the different period from the Sui & the Tang dynasties (581AD-907AD), the Song Dynasty, and the Ming Dynasty. Here you can see a water tunnel (water supply system) from the Sui & Tang Dynasties as well.

The following lists all gates open to tourists to ascend the City Wall:
Eastern side: East Gate, Zhongshan Gate, Northeastern Corner of the City Wall
Western side: Yuxiang Gate, West Gate (two entrances), Southwestern Corner of the Northern Bridle Way
Southern side: Small South Gate, South Gate, Wenchang Gate (two entrances), Heping Gate, Jianguo Gate and Hanyuan Gate.
Northern side: Small North Gate, North Gate (two entrances), Shangde Gate

2. Cycling on the City Wall:
Try biking on the City Wall, you will have an enjoyable and interesting experience. The bicycle deposit is CNY 200. The single bicycle costs CNY 20/100 minutes. The tandem bicycle costs CNY 40/100 minutes. The sightseeing bus costs CNY 65 for a tour around the city wall. Visitors can also tour the wall by sections which are charged differently by the distance.

 

Xi'an City Wall International Marathon
It is one of the most important annual games in the city and also an international sporting platform. At the same time, many people at the home and abroad would know much more about this ancient city by participating in this athletic contest. By now, Xi'an City Wall International Marathon has become a special name card in expanding international exchange and operation for the city.


Chinabravo Tours (Xi'an CITS) has been participated as part of the organizer of Xian City Wall International Marathon.
 

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Attractions of Xian


  1. Foping Nature Reserve for Giant Pandas
  2. Xian Ox Culture and Ceramics Museum
  3. North Square of Big Wild Goose Pagoda
  4. Changqing Nature Reserve
  5. Tang Dynasty Dinner and Show
  6. Chenlu Ancient Town
  7. Maoxian
  8. Xian
  9. Zhaoling Mausoleum
  10. Yong Le Gong Temple
  11. Qianling Mausoleum
  12. Mausoleum of Yellow Emperor
  13. Han Yangling Mausoleum
  14. Shaanxi Foping National Reserve
  15. Famen Temple
  16. Xian Ancient City Wall
  17. Shaanxi History Museum-II
  18. Bell & Drum Towers
  19. Banpo Museum
  20. Qin Terra Cotta Warriors and Horses
  21. Shaanxi Grand Theater
  22. Peasant Painting Exhibition Hall in Huxian
  23. Huxian Farmer's painting
  24. Tang Dynasty Art Museum
  25. Great Mosque
  26. Hui Nationality
  27. Islamic Religion
  28. Qianling Mausoleum
  29. Hukou Waterfalls
  30. Yan'an Pagoda
  31. Shaanxi Delicacy
  32. City God Temple in Sanyuan
  33. Xingqing Palace
  34. Daming Palace
  35. Blue Dragon Temple
  36. Feiyuan Museum
  37. Mount Hua
  38. Shaanxi History Museum
  39. Anwu Village
  40. Welcome Ceremony at the Ancient City Wall
  41. Luoguantai Shrine
  42. Han Maoling Mausoleum
  43. Han Yangling Tomb
  44. Yao Zhou Kiln Museum
  45. Qujiang Pool
  46. Xian Museum
  47. Xian High Tech Industries Development Zone
  48. The Silk Road
  49. Small Wild Goose Pagoda
  50. Forest of Stone Tablets
  51. Mausoleum of Emperor Qin Shihuangdi
  52. Xianyang
  53. Fuping Ceramic Art Village and Fule International Ceramic Art Museum
  54. Huaqing Hot Springs
  55. Banpo Village Museum
  56. Han Changling Mausoleum
  57. Big Wild Goose Pagoda
  58. Daming Palace National Heritage Park
  59. All Day Mall of the Great Tang Dynasty
  60. International Horticulture Exposition 2011 Xian
  61. Drum Tower
  62. Bell Tower
  63. Xingjiao Temple
  64. Bell Tower
  65. Mt.Hua
  66. Pit No.3 of Terra Cotta Army
  67. Pit No.2 of Terra Cotta Army
  68. Pit No.1 of Terra Cotta Army
  69. Dim Sum Delicacy
  70. Tomb of Princess Yongtai
  71. Bronze Chariots and Horses
  72. Tang Paradise

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