Shaanxi Province is located in the middle of China and the reaches of the Yellow River. It is the cradle of Chinese civilization. It has four distinct seasons and a mild climate, which makes March to November the best season to visit. The province is the starting point of the ancient Silk Road, and it was also the capital of 13 dynasties. As a result the area has a rich cultural heritage that includes the Qin Dynasty's Terra-cotta Warriors and Horses, Famen Temple, and the Stele Forest of Xi'an.
Shaanxi is also well known for its natural sceneries such as Hua Mountain, Hukon Waterfall along the Yellow River, and the vast expanses of the Loess Plateau.
Xi'an is located at the starting point of the ancient Silk Road. It is the capital of Shaanxi Province, located in the heart of the Guanzhong Basin with the Weihe River running to the north. It is the largest metropolis in northwestern China. It was also known as Chang'an in ancient China. Xi'an is a world-renowned ancient capital. For 1,062 years beginning in the 11th century B.C., Xi'an was the capital of 13 dynasties including the Western Zhou, Qin, Western Han, Eastern Han, Sui, and Tang. The continuous dynastic occupation kept the city beautiful and magnificent. More than two hundred and seventy palaces and temples were built during its heyday, such as the "Three Han Palaces" in the Han dynasty, namely Changle, Weiyang, Jianzhang Palaces, and numerous other palaces and watch towers. The best known among these is the Tomb of Emperor Qin Shihuang, with the Terra-cotta Warriors and Horses.
The Tomb of Emperor Qin Shihuang
Emperor Qin Shihuang (259 - 210 BC), founded the first feudal empire in Chinese history after annexing the 6 other dominant kingdoms of Qi, Chu, Yan, Han, Zhao and Wei in 221B.C. He began to have his tomb built as soon as he came into power, levying more than 700 thousand culprits and having a construction period of 38 years. The tomb is located in the east of Lintong County, which is 21.7 miles from Xi'an city. In addition to many other interesting articles, both water and silver were found in the tomb to represent all the rivers and seas of the world.
The Terra-cotta Warriors and Horses
The Terra-cotta Warriors and Horses listed as the Eighth Wonder of the World and consisting of more than 7,000 life-sized terra-cotta warriors and horses, were unearthed near the Tomb of Emperor Qin Shihuang. The tomb is a rammed-soil mound reaching approximately 154 feet into the air. In 1974, three large pits of terra-cotta figures were found about 1 mile east of the mausoleum. The excavation revealed more than 7,000 pieces of pottery figurines, bronze chariots and horses and weapons. Three burial pits were found. The No. 1 pit contains a rectangular formation of chariots and army troops; the No. 2 pit holds a winding formation of chariots, army troops and cavalries; and the No. 3 pit designed to symbolize a command headquarters. The Museum of Emperor Qin Shihuang's Tomb Figures of Soldiers and Horses is one of the 10 most famous places in China, and was announced as a world cultural heritage site by UNESCO.
The Stele Forest
The Stele Forest lies inside the southern city wall of Xi'an, where there are the largest numbers of steles from different dynasties. The construction of the Stele Forest began in 1087. It was maintained and expanded constantly during the dynasties of Jin, Yuan, Ming, Qing and the Minguo period, so the stored stones were increasing day after day. It stores almost 3000 epitaphs and steles from the Han Dynasty until now and 1089 of them have been exhibited. People admire the steles due to their uncanny resemblance to a forest and for their gathering together all kinds of styles of characters. It is a treasure house of Chinese calligraphy with a huge collection of steles inscribed by outstanding calligraphers from different dynasties.
The Huaqing Pool is situated at the foot of Lishan Mountain in the south and borders on the Wei River in the north, almost 21 miles east of Xi'an City. Being a villa palace and resort for many emperors and kings in ancient time, it embodies more than 3000 years of history. Emperor Qin Shihuang built a stone pool named the "Fairy's Spring." Both the Han Emperor Wudi and Sui Emperor Wendi enlarged it. During the Tang Dynasty, the Emperor Xuanzong ordered large-scale construction to transform the spring wells into pools housed in the walled palaces. These were called the "Huaqing Palace Pool" and "Spring Pool". The Tang Emperor Xuanzong and his concubine Lady Yang often came here for pleasure.
Xi'an City Wall
The Xi'an City Wall is the best-preserved, oldest and largest ancient city defense system in China. It is one of the most famous landmarks in Xi'an. The foundation was based on the ruins of the original Imperial City Wall of Chang'an City, the capital of the Tang Dynasty. In the year 904 when the capital of the Tang Dynasty was moved eastward, the Governor-general Han Jian had the city renovated and turned it into an army garrison, naming it the "New City". The Ming Dynasty was set up in 1368 and the Ming army entered the city in 1369. Afterward the city was renamed as the "Prefecture of Xi'an." The Xi'an City Wall has witnessed over 600 years of history since its construction in the early Ming Dynasty. Nowadays, it has become an object of study in ancient military science and a sightseeing and entertainment resort for visitors.
The Greater Wild Goose Pagoda
The Greater Wild Goose Pagoda was built in 652, the 3rd year of Yonghui of the Tang Emperor Gaozong, and is located in the Daci'en Temple complex in the southern suburb of Xi'an. A square pyramid of blue brick, it is 210 feet high with seven stories. The four stone doors in the base of the pagoda are exquisite engravings from the Tang Dynasty period.
The Mosque is located in Huajue Lane beside the Drum Tower; it is the best-known Islamic Mosque in Xi'an City. It was built in 742, the first year of Tian Bao of the Tang Emperor Xuanzong, and was restored in each of the Yuan, Ming and Qing Dynasties. The distribution of pavilions, halls, towers and platforms in the mosque is compact and exquisite, blending the traditional architectural styles of Islam and Han. It is one of the four largest mosques in China.
Xianyang is in the middle of Guanzhong Plain, north of the Weishui River. In 221 BC, the first Emperor Yingzheng of Qin Dynasty united China and established his capital here. Tombs of emperors, including nine emperors of the Han (206 -224 BC) and 18 of the Tang (618-907), are located on the Xianyang Plain, together with stone lions. The most famous royal tombs are the Mausoleum of Emperor Wu of the Western Han Dynasty, and those of Tang Empress Wu Zetian, and Western Han Emperor Jing.
The Mao Mausoleum and Tomb of Huo Qubing
The Mao Mausoleum, the tomb of Western Han Emperor Wu, is located 9.3 miles east of Xingping County, about 24.8 miles from Xi'an. It is the largest of all Han tombs and was found to contain the largest number of relics. Nearby there are over 20 accompanying tombs. In 1978, a museum was established. It exhibits the stone sculptures of Western Han Dynasty, such as galloping horses, resting oxen and tigers.
The mausoleum is in north Qian County, Shaanxi Province. It contains the tombs of Tang Emperor Gaozong (Li Zhi) and Empress Wu Zetian. The Shusheng Tablet was erected to record the achievements of Emperor Gaozong. The inscription was composed by Wu Zetian and inscribed by Gaozong. The Wuzi Tablet, a cast of the Shusheng Tablet, is the only tablet inscription without a single word on it in Chinese history. There are also 61 statues of honored guests. Empress Wu Zetian commissioned these for tribal heads and foreign envoys from the Western Regions who came to Emperor Gaozong funeral.
Baoji has a long history with a galaxy of cultural relics. It is an important city on the Silk Road. Its main spots of cultural interest are Famen Temple and Yandi Temple.
Famen Temple is situated in the town of Famen, 6.2 miles north of the Fufeng County and 74.5 miles west of Xi'an City. In Buddhist scripture, Famen is "the door one must enter once he wants to cultivate himself."
Famen Temple was first built during the East Han Dynasty. The Famen Temple Tower, also named "The Tower of the Real Body," gained its name from burying one section of Shijiamoni's finger bone underneath the structure. In 1985, Shijiamoni's finger bone "Sheli" and many precious cultural relics that had been stored deep beneath the surface for 1000 years was found in Digong. This finger bone is the only existent "Sheli" of the real body of Shijiamoni. Famem Temple has China's largest number of underground Buddhist palaces.