Shaanxi Province is near the geographical centre of China and is certainly one of the oldest centers of Chinese civilization. An ancient neolithic village at Banpo takes the story back to 4,500BC.The first emperor to unify China, Qin Shihuangdi (221 to 221 BC) is buried with his terracotta army at Xian the provincial capital of Shaanxi. Early Chinese people settled on the fertile loess valleys around the Yellow River (Huang He). Thereafter Xi’an was capital to China for a thousand years. It is a popular tourist destination but is also an industrial city noted for aviation and textile industries. The province stretches NE to the Great Wall and SW to the Daba Shan mountains. The mythical founders of China Yandi and Huangdi (Yellow Emperor) are both reputed to have lived in Shaanxi. There are many archaeological treasures of ancient China here.
Popular Cities: Xi’an, Xianyang, Baoji, Hanzhong, Tongchuan, Yan’an
Average temperature: -11ºC to 3.5ºC (12.2ºF to 38.3ºF) in January, 21ºC to 28ºC (69.8ºF to 82.4ºF) in July.
Places to visit
1. Huaqing Pool was an imperial winter pleasure resort located 16 miles [25 kms] north-east of Xian. Imperial visitors go back as far as the Western Zhou dynasty 2,800 years ago. It was extended in the Tang dynasty using water from the hot springs (109 ° F [43 ° C]). Tang emperor Xuanzong indulged the excesses of favorite concubine Yang Guifei
2. The Qingling mountain range contains Mount Hua (or Huashan) sacred to Daoists; it is one of the five traditional great mountains of China. The mountain has five peaks, the South Peak is the highest at 7,070 feet [2,155 meters]. It is a tough climb, starting at Yuquan Garden (Jade fountain) from where the path takes 18 bends before a perilous climb up sheer rock faces. It has claimed many lives of climbers over the years but remains a hugely popular hike.
3. Famen Temple is situated in Famen Town, 10 kilometers north of Fufeng With a history dating back 1,700 years, the temple was built during the Eastern Han Dynasty (25-220). It began to prosper during the Northern Wei Dynasty (386-534), and reached its peak in the Sui and Tang dynasties (589-907), when it was a prominent imperial temple. The site has also become a place of pilgrimage for millions of travelers and Buddhists alike as it houses one of Gautama Buddha’s finger bones.
4. The Tang Paradise, is located next to the Big Wild Goose Pagoda in Xi’an. It is China’s first large-scale theme garden that clearly represents the styles and features of the Tang Dynasty (618-907). It covers a total area of 66.7 hectares. The park is one of several modern reconstructions of ancient sites in Shaanxi, boasting numerous magnificent buildings, wide squares, and elegant gardens. It consists of 12 themed cultural zones which cover the topics of the emperor, poetry, food, tea culture, religion, dance, imperial examinations and science, and a demonstration of the history and culture of the Tang Dynasty.
5. The Tomb of Qin Shihuangdi, the unifier of China, is the must-see tourist destination in Shaanxi if not the whole of China. The tomb took 36 years to build with about 500,000 slave laborers, but only a tiny proportion of the vast tomb area has been excavated. The tomb is a large artificial mound 249 feet [76 meters] high. It is believed that at its center is a model of his great empire with liquid mercury used to represent the rivers. The Terracotta Army, also called the Terra Cotta Warriors and Horses, is a collection of terracotta sculptures depicting the armies of Qin Shi Huangdi (the first emperor of China). The museum consists of three huge pits, as well as the hall of the two bronze chariots and horses. Covering an area of 22,780 square meters, over 8,000 terra cotta soldiers and horses, and over 10,000 bronze weapons, were discovered across the three different pits. The museum is a treasure trove of the Qin Dynasty’s military, science and technology, art and culture. It has been listed as an UNESCO World Heritage Site.
6. The Big Wild Goose Pagoda was first built in 652 in the Tang Dynasty by Xuanzang, a prominent Buddhist scholar of that time. The pagoda collapsed not long after it was built. The pagoda tapers sharply from the first storey up, giving the entire structure the shape of a pyramid and ensuring it stands firm. The wooden steps and flooring inside allow people to go up all the way to the top and enjoy the splendid views Xi’an has to offer.
7. Located in the center of Xi’an City, the Xi’an City Wall is 12 meters high, 18 meters wide at the base and 15 meters wide at the top. It is 11.9 kilometers long and the length of the east, west, south and north walls are, respectively, 2590 meters, 2631.2 meters, 3441.6 meters and 3241 meters. It has four gates: Changle Gate in the east, Anding Gate in the west, Yongning Gate in the south and Anyuan Gate in the north. The existing wall was built between 1374 and 1378, making it over 600 years old. It is the oldest and best preserved ancient city wall in all of China.