Xi'an ("Western Peace") was the first capital of a unified China under the Qin Dynasty beginning in 221 B.C. Qinshi Huangdi, known as the Yellow Emperor, began a series of gargantuan construction projects including the Great Wall. Another famous project was the Army of the Terra-cotta Warriors that were built to protect his tomb. After marveling at the endless soldiers, one can go to the Shaanxi Museum of History to get an up close and personal look at the detailing of the soldiers and horses. In the thousands found of soldiers found, no two faces are alike!
Later, the city would reach its peak as the capital of the Tang Dynasty, 618-917 A.D. when it was the largest city in the world and assumed the name Chang'an ("Eternal Peace"). Xi'an was the capital of China for over 1,000 years through 11 dynasties. It is the beginning of the legendary "silk road" to Europe and the Middle East, over which many exotic goods and peoples traveled. Many religions also entered Xi'an from this road including Islam, Christianity, and Buddhism.
Islamic influence can be seen at the Great Mosque, which is a fusion of Chinese and Islamic style and where Xi'an's sizeable Muslim population comes to pray. On your way, you will wind your way through the labyrinth of stalls in the ancient market. The Big Wild Goose Pagoda was the most famous temple during the Tang dynasty and was built for Emperor Gao Zong's mother to house Buddhist scriptures collected from India.
Finally, you can take a walk along the Xi'an City Wall. This is one of the most complete and best-preserved city walls in all of China and was built by the founder of the Ming dynasty, about 600 years ago.
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