The city of Xian

To see FABULOUS 
Xi’an is a must see. I was doubtful about the importance of Xi’an. Of course, there are the warriors, but.. all that distance… for that…
WRONG!
The warriors for themselves sure deserve the trip, but Xi’an is much more than that. An harmonious town, where tradition and modernity stand side by side, without the strong contrasts of Shanghai or Beijing, for instance.
Xi’an is an absolute MUST SEE.

​Wild Goose Pagoda

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Not exactly a simple temple, but a wide complex with temples, pagodas and gardens. 

A detailed visit will take lots of time. If you don’t worry too much about the function and history of each construction, then a couple of hours will do, but be prepared to meander around, or you will take a rather basic idea of the whole.

The most impressive structure is the Giant (or Big) Wild Goose Pagoda, Also Dayan Pagoda, built in 652 during the Tang Dynasty, with materials brought from India. It was rebuilt in 704 during the reign of Empress Wu Zetian, with the exterior brick facade renovated during the Ming Dynasty.

In the complex many other things must be seen, specially the Da Cien temple, and the gardens, with many musical fountains and sculptures.

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Monks

Be aware that, like everywhere else, temples are praying sites, and, despite their old and exotic look, they may keep being used for their religious purposes. 

That is the case of the Wild Goose Pagoda, where we tried to do not disturb the praying monks, but… only their great concentration helped us. 

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Wild Goose Pagoda shops: Nice to See

Don’t skip the shopping area in the Wild Goose Pagoda. 
More than a shop, it looks like a museum, and allows different angles to see the site. 
The prices… well, that I skipped, but, being in a monument…!

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Recuperation

Everywhere in China, people work hard to recover touristy spots. 

That was mainly seen in Beijing, but also in Xi’an. Many monuments exhibit covered facades, but also there are works on-going with visitors around. 
The Big Wild Goose Pagoda was no exception, but the disturbing to the visitors was minimum.

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City Wall

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A sense of strenght

It’s fundamental to climb the city wall, and to walk on it. 

It’s easy to feel its importance in the defense of the city, and the challenge it would mean to those who tried to cross it with their primitive resources. 

Though the balloons and some decoration are recent (I don’t know if matching any tradition), it’s remarkable the aesthetics they add to a military construction.

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Perfect preservation

The construction from the Ming period was totally recovered in the eighties. Excellent idea and work. It expresses true authenticity, and the sights of the ramparts punctuated with beautiful towers until fading in the haze is magnificent.

Walking a little in any section of its 15 km long, and the visit of one of the several towers are not to be missed.

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War Machines

The city wall is a great monument by itself. Walking on it, even in a short distance, is mandatory.

Furthermore, the clever idea of spreading on it some recreations of the old war machines enhances the views, and give this place a sense of natural authenticity. 

Of course, we don’t know the purpose of some of them, but… they fit well in place!

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The Moat

The big, solid volume of the walls make the long and wide moat that surrounds them look like a “insignificant” detail, but we are forced to admit that its perfect conception was an effective defense, and it helps today to enhance the views of the walls and the sensation of power that they emanate.

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The External City

Around the huge area encircled by the walls, a modern city seems to match the development seen in the other big cities of China. 

Concentrated in the interior of the old town, and the external highlights (terracotta warriors and tombs) we had no time to explore that part of the city, only having of it a general idea caught from the bus. 

​Saving time

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In your escorted tour, you have to be taken to factories. Can’t escape!

Accepting that, if you may choose, do pick something like this. The factory itself is an old place with a classical atmosphere and the separated ateliers show, at once, several arts, almost everything. 

Of course, you need to check prices – I didn’t!

​Bazaar – Muslim Quarters 

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The mosque 
It’s quite a surprise this building. Everything looks… Chinese, in Ming style. 

Without a warning, no one could imagine this site as a Muslim temple. A good exercise is to walk around, searching for signs that confirm the nature of the religious practices in place, and, discreet, they are there: In a shadowed room, the carpets oriented to Mecca wait for the prayers, and in the garden, some decorations are a Chinese interpretation of Arab decoration. 

Funny!

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Mosque – The garden

In almost all the mosques that I visited, water for purification waits the believers at the entrance, and receive a treatment of some evidence. 

I didn’t see it in Xi’an. A beautiful and refreshing garden, but no fountain. They really wanted to be original, or did I miss something?

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Muslim Quarter

The mosque of Xi’an is a surprise, without many signs connecting to muslim art and architecture, however, when you exit, if you walk a little in the narrow streets, you will easily feel the muslim way of life around you.

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Bazaar
Take your time in this area. The bazaar is a wide area of stalls selling… everything, but around it, China pulses with its best colours and events. 

The streets and walkways are full of life, and if you can support some unpleasant smells (Fernanda complained a little) it’s something you shouldn’t miss.

Birds
Maybe because of the excess of population (maybe because they eat them…) dogs and cats are not very visible in China, where pets seem to be mainly fishes and birds. 

Birds deserve a special attention, with people taking them to the parks to “meet friends” and exchange melodies. Without surprise, selling birds is an important branch of local commerce.

​​Drum and Bell Tower

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In the centre of the old city, and marking the entrance to the Muslim quarter, there is a beautiful tower, very similar to its neighbor – the Bell Tower. 

The main difference is that instead of bells it has large drums all around it. We had no opportunity to assist a drum performance, but, no doubt, with that size and quantity it shall be a hell of a noise…

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City Center
In many aspects, the bigger Chinese cities are getting an “American look”, given by architecture, space, lights, and organization. 

One thing, fortunately they are not copying: the concept of town. Xi’an has something that almost all American cities miss: a centre. Nowhere I saw such a well defined centre: a square wall 15 km long defines the centre of town, and inside it two big avenues split the rectangle from north to south and east to west. Where they cross, a beautiful tower occupies the square. Perfect and wonderful geometry.

​Tang Dinasty show

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I mentioned this in a few places, but I have to do it again here: It is, really a “must do”, in Xi’an, to watch this magnificent show. 

Your eyes and ears will thank you.

Address: 75 Changan Road