A city in central China that among other things is home to the famous Terra Cotta Army and the beginning (or the end) of the Silk Road. Xi'an was the capital of China during 11 dynasties and has now become one of the larger cities in China.

Xi'an means Western Peace, and was the capitol of the earliest dynasties of Chinese civilization (then known as Chang'an. Because it is far west/inland from the major cities of China, it is generally visited by tourists only for the Terra Cotta Army--which is certainly well worth a visit, especially the second and third areas which are still being excavated. However, there is more to see, many palaces and such, the goofy statue of Yang Guifei, and so on. The ancient city walls are also quite impressive, and would be more so if they hadn't been mostly destroyed during Mao's Cultural Revolution.

Driving through the countryside on the way to the city is amazing: nearly every farmer's field is interrupted here and there by archaelogical digs. Xi'an proper is still being "developed," and it's full of half-built, rusting factories and empty Soviet-style apartment buildings without glass in the windows. It's also very, very dusty, at least in the summer.

From Xi'an you can take a day trip to Leshan, or hop the train to about anywhere.

NB: Sometimes people query whether "Xi'an" is an outdated romanization, since the use of the ' in Chinese names went out when Pinyin came in. Actually, this is a useful convention and is accepted as standard. Xi'an is two syllables, and if it were romanized without a space like most two syllable words are now, it would look like a different sound, the single syllable "xian."

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