China Insight Series - Xi’an (西安)

The Insight Series for 2014 continues! This series focuses on the Eight Great Ancient Capitals of China as defined by the China Ancient Capital Society.

These capitals include the cities of Luoyang, Xi'an, Beijing, Kaifeng, Nanjing, Anyang, Zhengzhou and Hangzhou. Each of these cities has served as the Capital between 216 and 1,309 for various governments in China. 

Xi'an (西安)

Xi'an, the eternal city, records the great changes of the Chinese nation just like a living history book. Called Chang'an in ancient times, Xi'an is one of the birthplaces of the ancient civilization in the Yellow River Basin area of the country. Were China a tree, Beijing would be the crown while Xi'an would be its deep roots. As a saying goes: "Go to Shanghai and you will find a 100-year-old China; go to Beijing and you will find a 1000-year-old China; go to Xian and then you will find a 3000-year-old China." During Xian's 3100 year development, 13 dynasties such as Western Zhou (11th century BC-771 BC), Qin (221BC-206 BC), Western Han (206 BC-24 BC) and Tang (618-907) placed their capitals here. So far, Xi'an enjoys equal fame with Athens, Cairo, and Rome as one of the four major ancient civilization capitals.
Terracotta Warriors 

Xi'an is the capital of Shaanxi province, located in the southern part of the Guanzhong Plain. With the Qinling Mountains to the south and Weihe River to the north, it is in a favorable geographical location surrounded by water and hills. It has a semi-moist monsoon climate and there is a clear distinction between the four seasons. Except the colder winter, any season is relatively suitable for traveling.

The cultural and historical significance of the area, as well as the abundant relics and sites, help Xi'an enjoy the laudatory title of 'Natural History Museum'. The Museum of Terra Cotta Warriors and Horses is praised as 'the eighth major miracle of the world', Mausoleum of Emperor Qin Shi Huang is listed on the World Heritage List, and the City Wall of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) is the largest and most intact Ming Dynasty castle in the world. In the city, there is the 3000 year old Banpo Village Remains from the Neolithic Age (approximately from 8000 BC to 5000 BC), and the forest of Stone Steles that holds 3000 stone steles of different periods from the Han Dynasty to the Qing Dynasty. Around Xi'an, the Famen Temple enjoys the reputation of being the 'forefather of pagodas and temples in Central Shaanxi,' because it holds the finger bones of Sakyamuni - the founder of Buddhism. The natural landscape around Xi'an is also impressive. Mt. Huashan, one of the five best-known mountains in China, is famous for its breath-taking cliffs and its unique characteristics.
Riding on the City Wall 

Today, despite the searing summer and freezing winters, Xi'an is a joy to visit. You can choose different kinds of hotel. The local cuisine is not among the eight great cuisines of China, but it enjoys enormous popularity. If you visit one of the local cuisine restaurants and taste local favourites like Yang Rou Pao Mo ('lamb soaked bread'; unleavened flat bread in lamb stew with glass noodles), you will find out why. After dinner, you can either enjoy a traditional form of entertainment, like the Qin Opera and the Tang Dynasty Music and Dance Show, or indulge in modern bars and karaoke places.

Locals are easy going, yet shake their heads in regret that their ancestor "fell behind" their richer cousins in Beijing. However, tens of thousands of worldwide visitors, together with plenty of upscale new malls full of well-dressed shoppers, tell you that Xi'an is not that far behind.

Confucian Saying Of The Month


wú shí yǒu wǔ ér zhì yú xué, sānshí ér lì, sìshí ér bù huò, wǔshí ér zhī tiān mìng, liùshí ér ěr shùn, qīshí ér cóng xīn suǒ yù bù yú jǔ

At fifteen I set my heart upon learning. At thirty, I was firmly established. At forty, I had no more doubts. At fifty, I knew the rules of things in the universe. At sixty, I could judge correctly whatever I heard. At seventy, I could follow the dictates of my own heart; for what I desired no longer overstepped the boundaries of right.

Chinese Character Of The Month



This Chinese character is very important in Confucius philosophy. It is made up of two elements: the left element (人) means human; the right element (二) means two. The original meaning of the character is the relationship between two people; a relationship of kindness.

仁慈 réncí - Benevolence; mercy; kindness.

仁至义尽 rénzhìyìjìn - Treat somebody with the utmost decency and kindness.

仁者见仁,智者见智 rénzhéjiànrén, zhìzhéjiànzhì - The benevolent see benevolence and the wise see wisdom; opinions differ from person to person; everyone has his own views.

Find an expert

Search our experts database.