A journey to Xian in Central China
On a China trip you will almost inevitably pass by the city of Xian sooner or later due to its geographical location and its cultural and historical significance.
The beginnings of Xian go back to the Bronze Age 3000 years ago. The heyday of Xian in central China began during the Qin Dynasty (221-206 BC) when it became the first capital of China under Emperor Qin Shi Huang. At that time the city was called "Chang An" which means "Long Peace".
The death of Qin Shi Huang in the 3rd century BC also marked the end of the Qin dynasty. The tomb of Qin Shi Huang with its famous Terracotta Warriors was only discovered by chance in 1974 by a local farmer. Since then the excavation site has developed into one of the most important tourist attractions of China.
His successors were the Han, who ruled from 206 B.C. to 220 A.D. and made the city of Xian the capital of their Han Empire.
For a long time, Xian was the beginning and end point of the famous Silk Road, one of the oldest trade routes in the world. This made Xian some sort of a gateway to the West. Here camel caravans unloaded their goods from the Eurasian region and in return were loaded with valuable goods from China that were sought after in the West. In particular, Silk from China was in great demand in the Roman Empire.
After the decline of the Han Dynasty, Xian was destroyed during the subsequent turmoil of war.
Under the reign of the Sui (581-618), Xian was rebuilt and declared the capital of the short-lived Sui Dynasty. Xian experienced a new heyday during the subsequent Tang Dynasty (1386-1644). Xian developed into a trading center on the Silk Road and became a center of the arts; calligraphy, sculpture, pottery, painting and poetry reached new heights. Buddhism also entered Xi'An during the Tang Dynasty.
With the fall of the Tang Dynasty at the end of the 9th century came the economic decline of Xian. The capital was moved to Nanjing. Although Xian was rebuilt under the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), it was never able to continue the heyday of the Tang Dynasty. From this last reconstruction comes also the very well-preserved city wall. Today, Xian is regarded as the city with the most beautiful city wall of China, preserved in its original state.
Xian then came to imperial honors for the last time in 1900, when the empress widow Cixi, who had fled from Beijing due to the Boxer uprising, moved the imperial court to Xian for 2 years.