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The former capital of a succession of dynasties stretching for a thousand years, which gave rise to the Han civilization, Xi'an is already well-known for the Terracotta Army. Now it’s been quietly seeing dramatic developments under a project that seeks to resuscitate the city’s eminence in culture and arts that it enjoyed under the Tang Dynasty, when Xi'an was the most sophisticated city east of Rome and the fount of the Silk Road. Broken sections of the old city wall have been completed, making it possible to walk on its ramparts in a loop. Chenghuang Temple, dedicated to the city’s guardian god, is now open and restored after it was ...

The former capital of a succession of dynasties stretching for a thousand years, which gave rise to the Han civilization, Xi'an is already well-known for the Terracotta Army. Now it’s been quietly seeing dramatic developments under a project that seeks to resuscitate the city’s eminence in culture and arts that it enjoyed under the Tang Dynasty, when Xi'an was the most sophisticated city east of Rome and the fount of the Silk Road. Broken sections of the old city wall have been completed, making it possible to walk on its ramparts in a loop. Chenghuang Temple, dedicated to the city’s guardian god, is now open and restored after it was wrecked in the Cultural Revolution, and at the Shaanxi Historical Museum there is a new wing that showcases Tang murals that depict scenes from the city 1,300 years ago. The Gao Fu house is a rare specimen of an old estate built around four courtyards, while the best attraction of all is the Han Yang Ling Museum – an underground museum built over some of the pits of a massive royal mound, displaying the terracotta figures as they were found. Modern Xi'an is also increasingly funky, with a spate of good music bars, clubs, wine bars, and cafes.

J.D. Brown
About the Expert

J.D. Brown is a contributor to Frommer's China and Frommer's Beijing, coauthor of Frommer's China: The 50 Most Memorable Trips, Berlitz Shanghai, Berlitz Singapore, and other books.

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Now Happening in Xi'an

Facts at a Glance

  • Location: Eastern Asia, lies on the "Guanzhong Plain" in central China, borders the Qinling Mountains to the south and Wei River to the north
  • Language: Mandarin, Yue (Cantonese), Wu (Shanghaiese), Xiang
  • Currency: Yuan
  • Research: Wikitravel | Xian
  • Weather: Rainfall | Daylight
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  • Best Time to Visit:

    April, May, October, November