Xi'an is the first of China's Four Great Ancient Capitals. The immaculately restored and mighty city wall still dominates
the center of the city, with road traffic navigating through
tunnel-like openings in its girth. Many modern buildings keep with
ancient decor, especially the rooves. Xi'an is characterized
by and proud of its ancient heritage, and rightly so.
"China" began in Xi'an, when First Emperor Qin (from whom China gets its name) finished
conquering and united the warring states in 221 BC. The entombed
Terracotta Army stands as a monument to the power of Emperor
Xi'an served as China’s capital for the most dynasties: ten dynasties spread intermittently over a 1,100 year period,
most notably the Han Dynasty (206 BC–220 AD) and the Tang
Dynasty (618–907), golden ages in China's history. Tang opera is
still popular in Xi'an night shows.
Xi’an has world class ancient, religious, cultural and natural attractions, including: the Terracotta Warriors and Horses, The Ancient City
Wall, Big Wild Goose Pagoda, Small Wild Goose Pagoda, Huaqing Hot
Springs, Mount Hua, Banpo Museum, The Forest of Steles , The Great
Mosque, Qianling Mausoleum and Famen Temple.
Shaanxi, a landlocked province in Central China, is one of the
birthplaces of civilization in China. Shaanxi is also called Qin
(presumably after Emperor Qin, who united China in 221 BC and made
his capital in Xi’an) or Shaan. Shaanxi Province has an area of
205,800 square kilometers and a population of 37 million people.
Xi’an is situated in the center of the Weihe Plain, bounded by the
Weihe River in the north and the Qin Mountain Range in the south.
Beishan (the Northern Mountains) and Qinling (the Qin Mountain
Range) stand as two boundaries that divide the province into three
natural areas: the Loess Plateau in Northern Shaanxi, the
Guangzhong (Vast Central) Plain, and the Qinba Hills. The plateau
and hills make up most of the province's area. Shaanxi has a
continental climate with four distinct seasons. The months from
March to November are the tourist high season as they are warmer.
Xi'an played a very important part in Chinese history. It served as
the imperial capital for 10 ancient imperial dynasties from 221 BC
to 906 AD. Read more about the History of Xi'an.
The Meaning of Place Names Around Xi'an
Xi’an is pronounced sshe-an (ignoring tones). The unusual
apostrophe in the middle of this city’s name divides two Chinese
words xi (west) and an (peace). Without the apostrophe it would be indistinguishable from
the Chinese word xian, pronounced sshyen, which could have any number of meanings,
Salty is the meaning of xian in Xianyang, Xi'an's northwest suburb, which now holds Xi'an's
international airport. When Emperor Qin Shihuang united China for
the first time in 221 BC, he chose Xianyang as the capital of his
empire. The yang in Xianyang in the Chinese word meaning sun, bright, positive or
male. This yang is widely known as one of the two components of yin and yang, the opposite and coexisting forces in Taoist philosophy.
Xi’an was called Chang’an until the Ming Dynasty began in 1368. The
apostrophe in Chang’an separates two Chinese words: chang (long or perpetual) and an (peace). Without the apostrophe (Changan) it could be misconstrued
as the two Chinese words chan and gan.
Xi’an is the capital of Shaanxi province. If the tones of the
Chinese language are ignored Shaanxi is pronounced shan-sshe,
exactly the same as Shanxi province on its eastern border. Shaanxi
is written with an extra a (although this does not conform to the rules for standard Chinese
romanization, called pinyin) to distinguish it from neighboring
Shanxi province where tonal markers are not used.
Shaanxi is made up of two Chinese words: Shan (a falling-rising tone word that has no meaning apart from as a
province name) and xi (west). The Shan in neighboring Shanxi is a high tone character and means mountain,
and xi once again represents the character for west. The Shaan in Shaanxi has a repeated a probably because the falling-rising tone, sounds a little like a
repetition of the vowel. The Chinese tones make the language
difficult to learn and, on occasions such as explained above, easy