Xi’an in northwest China has been a centre for emperors, poets, and warriors. Though those illustrious times may have ended, an archaeological find of the Terracotta Army guarding Emperor Qin Shi Huang’s tomb, still survives alongside the modern city.
Long before anyone knew of Beijing, Shaanxi was the centre for Chinese civilisation and history, as the heartland of the first dynasty of Imperial China – the Qin dynasty, whose emperor Qin Shi Huang united much of China for the first time.
To experience the remains of bygone times of Xi’an, a short drive to the eastern countryside takes us to the stellar attraction – the Terracotta Army. Discovered accidentally in 1974, the life-sized army of around 7,000 soldiers, horses and chariots has been guarding Emperor Qin’s tomb since 210 BC.
Eventually, over 8,000 terracotta soldiers and their horses were found lined up in a battle formation. The regiment of soldiers, generals and horses lay under the earth for two millennia, until farmers digging a well discovered it in 1974. Restoration brought these statues on public display, where each figure appears to be different – no two soldiers’ faces are alike.
According to archaeologists, the soldiers they have discovered so far may be part of an even larger army.
The highlights of the museum are the three pits where the warriors are on display, and the exhibition of bronze chariots. “Pit One is the largest and most impressive, where about 2,000 terracotta warriors are displayed. Pit two uncovers the mystery of the ancient army array. Third represents command post,” our guide Eric Wang tells us as he points towards the last pit.
Another highlight around the site are the peach and pomegranate orchards. Do pick some packaged pomegranate toffees made here.