Once the end point of Silk Road, Xi’an became home to a fascinating medley of cultures and religions. Perhaps as far back as the Ming dynasty, the city’s Hui (non-Uyghur Chinese Muslim) community have resided in the narrow backstreets north of Drum Tower. Wander past traditional butcher shops, sesame-oil factories, interesting Islamic food markets and numerous mosques, or visit at night when the area is particularly atmospheric. Utterly fascinating, Xi’an’s sacred Great Mosque stunningly blends Chinese and Islamic architecture; a tranquil haven amidst the buzz of the busy city, the mosque is surrounded by beautiful blooming magnolias in the spring.
Tomb of the Emperor Jingdi
An underrated highlight of any trip to Xi’an, the Tomb of the Emperor Jingdi is the splendid burial place of the Han-dynasty emperor who lived from 188-141BC. Emperor Jingdi, inspired by Taoist rules, did much to improve the life of his subjects, lowering taxes, reducing military expeditions and improving criminal punishment; the tomb’s contents offer a fascinating insight into the rule, and daily life, in Xi’an those many centuries ago. Explore the captivating excavation area – believed to house up to 81 burial pits – before learning more and marvelling at the large display of impressive terracotta figurines in the museum.
Whilst Xi’an showcases an eclectic array of religious buildings, you can still find plenty of traditional Chinese Buddhist temples and pagodas. Though quite an expedition to reach, Famen Temple’ s intricacy, superb museum and collection of Tang-dynasty treasures make the journey worthwhile. Built in 2nd century AD to house scared finger bones of Buddha - originally kept in tiny crystal and jade coffins - the temple remains an important pilgrimage site. The sole Tibetan Buddhist temple in the entire province, Guǎngrén Temple hums with mystery and spiritual energy, whilst the iconic Big Goose is one of China’s best examples of Tang-style pagoda.
Back in 1974, a poor local man - whilst digging a well - accidently unearthed an underground army of over ten-thousand terracotta clay warriors. Although the story differs dramatically between the older locals (all adamant it was they who discovered the huge tomb), the life-size figures remain a hugely popular and must-visit tourist attraction. Set within three enormous pits, it is the sheer magnitude of the project that displays such an impressive feat of ingenuity, each carefully individually crafted warrior reflecting great discipline and craftsmanship.
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Travelling With Children or Without an Adult
Children travelling without both parents should be aware that some countries require documentary evidence of parental responsibility before allowing lone parents to enter the country or, in some cases, before permitting the children to leave the country. Please contact the relevant Embassy for the county you are travelling to for further information.
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