One of the most interesting days of our visit to China was the day we spent around Xi'an. We visited three important historical places: Huaqing Hot Springs, the Tomb of Qin Shi Huang, and the Army of Terracotta Warriors. The first place was really beautiful because of the nice Chinese buildings and gardens and the blooming trees! The second one was a bit disappointing at the beginning, because you cannot see anything of the tomb... it is actually still closed!! and the third one was the reason to come to Xi'an: a real marvel of the world; one of the most impressive archeological places I have ever seen.
Huaqing Hot Springs were a favorite retreat for Emperors in the Tang Dynasty. They kept their concubines here. This place is famous because it was home to Yang Guifei, according to legend, one of the most beautiful women in history, and which caused great trouble to the Emperor (some political rebellion). The place is full of beautiful ponds and beautiful buildings. The following photos do not need any explanation! Just enjoy the beautiful Chinese scenery!!
The next stop of the day was the tomb of maybe the most famous emperor in ancient China: Qin Shi Huang. This Emperor was the first person which could unite all the country under a unified rule in 221 BC. His tomb is, according to chronicles of that time, quite impressive but it was discovered not too long ago (around 30-40 years ago) and it is still unexcavated. It is very protected and archeologists do not want to destroy it when they open it... or just they do not want to get killed!! In my opinion, I am not quite sure it is ok to open it and raid it... It is a tomb after all, a place of eternal rest, right? This is something I thought a lot about in Egypt. All these pharaohs, emperors, kings... took so much trouble in hiding their final resting places and treasures and then, we are just looking for them, to raid their tombs to exhibit them in museum all around in the "developed" world... I am not sure that is the right thing to do or if we even have any right to do it. Anyway... So this is the tomb: a mold in the middle of a large plain. The view from the top were quite nice and around the mold, many gardens with blooming cherry trees. Not bad!
And finally, the highlight of the day, and possibly, of any trip to China (!), the Army of Terracotta Warriors. There are many legends of why Qin Shi Huang would have built such an army to protect his tomb. Was he scared of the after life? Did he plan to resurrect and have an army ready for his conquest plans? Questions that will remain unanswered forever. At least, we can now visit these place and be overwhelmed by the dimensions of such an army!! Another thing to take into account is this was discovered in 1974, so it is still archeology in the make (is this good English?...); I mean, archeologist are still working on it.
The place consists of three different pits, discovered at different times. This is pit number 1, the one that was discovered first and which therefore has more restored warriors. It is quite amazing... so huge... so many warriors... and the most impressive thing: there are no two warriors which look the same (out of more than 10000 figures!!).
This is the third pit, where higher ranking officials are. As you can see, their position is not combat-wise. They are looking at each other as a proof of respect. This is the smallest pit and only has around 60-70 warriors.
Outside of the pits, more cherry trees!
Pit 2 is very large, but it is still undergoing restoration. So not much can be seen there. However, there are some exhibited individual warriors which are interesting: you can watch them from less than 1 meter away!
To sum up, Xi'an was an amazing place to visit. The city is really beautiful and the archeological places around are just awesome. If you go to China, plan at least 2-3 days in Xi'an!! You won't regret.
PS: that was a long post! ;-)