Known as the ‘Eternal City’, Xian is an important ancient city of China and one of the Four Great Capitals. With an array of historical and archaeological sites, it is a popular place for travellers to start their North China experience.
Surrounded by the well-intact City Wall and its moat, the capital of Shaanxi is home to the famous terracotta army, spectacular pagodas, towers and mountains. Start in the midst of everything with the Bell Tower which signifies the geographical centre of Xian. The Tower was built in the late 1300’s as a way of gaining a view of upcoming attacks, then using the bell to warn the people. Through legend, it is believed that the bell became silent in the Ming Dynasty rule so was replaced by a smaller one. The original Jingyun Bell is now housed at the Forest of Stone Steles Museum.
In the same park as the Bell Tower is the Drum Tower that was also constructed in the late 1300’s. Since its creation it has been renovated twice though has kept its 24 drums which represent the solar terms used as a calendar timer in ancient times.
Another monument to admire is the Giant Wild Goose Pagoda. It has withstood earthquakes to still stand today at over 1,000 years old. It stands next to Asia’s largest fountain which gives daily performances to music. The pagoda is said to protect ancient Buddhist writings.
For a natural excursion, head to Mount Huashan to the east of Shaanxi Province. You can trek through the steep paths to reach Lotus Peak which lies 2100m high. The scenery is stunning and well worth the effort to climb the rocky paths. The mountain is approximately 100km from Xian.
Xian climate is not too extreme, with summer producing temperatures in the early 30’s while winter is at its coolest from December to February with lows reaching -4 °C. While most tourists flock here in summer, autumn tends to be the most pleasant time to travel and see all the Xian sights.