Xian, home of the Terracotta Warriors, is a city with an illustrious past. Imperial capital for 11 dynasties and the terminus of the fabled Silk Road it may look like a modern metropolis at first glance, but delve deeper to find a wealth of sites and relics.
Xian’s essential sight, the warriors of Qin Shi Huang’s terracotta army are one of the world’s greatest archaeological finds. Buried in battle formation for 2000 years, until, in 1974, a group of farmers stumbled across a chamber whilst digging a well, each of the warriors was crafted with different facial expressions, varying heights and are positioned according to rank. One of the most exciting things about the site is that it is still a working excavation – the majority of the warriors still remain undisturbed.
Why not view the enigmatic ranks in the company of an archaeologist who will be able to share unique insights and anecdotes about the excavations.
Xian’s old city wall, built during the Ming Dynasty, is one of the oldest and the best preserved in China. Towering to 12 metres, and creating a circuit of 14km around the oldest part of the city it is possible to walk, cycle or even be driven by cart around it – an excellent way to orientate yourself with the old town below. The space within the walls is occupied by the fascinating old city. You’ll find the magnificent Bell and Drum Towers here, also constructions of the Ming Dynasty, which contain displays of old drums and bells, and offer commanding views over Xian.
Home to a community of Chinese Muslims (Hui) for centuries, Xian’s Muslim Quarter is an area of narrow streets crammed with small mosques, specialist shops and stalls selling food and trinkets. At its heart is the Grand Mosque, founded in the 10th century after Islam arrived via the Silk Road, a fascinating blend of Muslim and Chinese architecture. Wander this quarter at night for an extra atmospheric experience.
The burial palace of Emperor Jing and Empress Wang of the Western Han Dynasty, the Hanyangling Mausoleum offers an entirely different archaeological experience to the Terracotta Warriors. Descend below ground to walk amongst the intricately crafted half-sized figures of warriors, women and animals, left exactly where they were found, surrounded by the artefacts of everyday life from the 2nd century BC.
Located close to the city’s West Gate, the Grand New World offers comfortable rooms designed in a classic yet contemporary style. All rooms are equipped with modern conveniences and hotel facilities include a beauty salon and foot massage.
Sofitel Xian on Renmin Square is located right in the heart of the city. A full range of spacious and well-appointed rooms are equipped with ultra-modern conveniences and plush interiors. Relax in the serenity of Touch Spa, take a dip in the indoor heated pool or dine in one of five restaurants offering a range of culinary experiences.
The Shangri-La is at the pinnacle of Xian's accommodation options. Find relaxation in the stylishly decorated rooms where floor to ceiling windows give fantastic views over the city. Relish the acclaimed five-star service and start the day with a sumptuous breakfast feast fit for an emperor.
Housed in an iconic building within Xian’s city walls, the Sofitel Legend marries sensitive restoration with overt luxury in a hotel designed to exceed your every need.
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The world’s largest and most populous continent, Asia is a vibrant and rambunctious fusion of ethnicities, cultures and customs; an incomparably rich and turbulent history showcased by mindboggling feats of architecture and engineering; a geography that encompasses towering peaks, unfathomable gorges and paradisiacal beaches; and a biodiversity that is so abundant that you’ll be reaching for your wildlife guide.