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Overview to Xian: Travel Guide and Tourist Information
Unlike some Chinese cities that have given themselves over to fairly major urban and economic development, Xian has managed to take on the mentality of the business world while retaining more than just a flavor of its rich history.
The 12 kilometers of ancient (yet still well-preserved) walls that surround the city center may well explain Xian’s continuing sense of historical identity. These walls offer a great way to become accustomed with the city – their circuit can be walked within three hours, or cycled even quicker.
The heart of Xian (within the walls) is easy to navigate on account of its grid system. The Bell Tower signifies the central point, from which four main streets spread out along the points of the compass. Dong Dajie Road, to the east, is the city’s major shopping and dining strip.
Head west from the Bell Tower, past the Drum Tower, and the labyrinthine alleys of the Muslim Quarter open up before you. The Great Mosque sits a little to the north of the Drum Tower and attracts the majority of Xian’s 30,000 or so Muslim inhabitants on a regular basis.
Outside the walls, the rest of Xian spreads out, although the majority of its sights sit firmly to the south of this central area. Along Chang An Lu from the South Gate, the Small Goose Pagoda and Shaanxi History Museum are both essential viewing.
About four kilometers further south, another Pagoda (the Big Goose Pagoda) is again well worth a look. It sits next to the Tang Dynasty Arts Museum and the Dacien Si (Xian’s largest temple), which dates back to the 7th century.
A short trip from the city, the astonishing Terracotta Army - a collection of over 8,000 life-size statues - stands to attention. One of China’s – and indeed, the whole world’s – most compelling spectacles, they alone justify a trip to Xian.