The ancient Silk Road metropolis of Xi’an, home to the legendary Terra Cotta Warriors, has witnessed the rise and fall of 14 imperial dynasties over two millennia. It was the gateway to the west and the starting point of the Silk Road. During the Tang Dynasty (618-907), Xi’an was thought to be the largest city in the world, linked to many central Asian regions and Europe via the Silk Road. Your guided excursions include visits to the site of the famed Terra Cotta Warriors, unearthed just 40 years ago, the Muslim quarter, home to the Great Mosque of Xi’an, and the Stone Forest with its numerous historic inscriptions and stonework.
Xi’an / Tomb of the Terra Cotta Warriors
From Beijing, fly to Xi’an. After lunch in a local restaurant and a chance to sample Xian's celebrated noodle dishes, visit the famed site of Xi’an’s terra cotta warriors, one of the most remarkable archaeological discoveries of all time. Built by Qin Shihuang, the first emperor of unified China, the site contains an astounding army of 8,000 life-sized terra cotta warriors and their steeds buried underground in full regalia and arranged in battle formation. You have the option to visit the museum's lower deck (at additional cost), which is typically open only to China's government officials, for 20 minutes of uninterrupted private access to see the warriors up close and personal. Time permitting, visit the Big Goose Pagoda, a reminder that Xi’an’s location at the eastern end of the Silk Road made it a flourishing center of Buddhist development in China. Overnight at the Hilton Xi'an, set within Xi'an's ancient City Wall...LD
Xi'an City Wall and Bell Tower / Stele Forest
After breakfast this morning, head for Xi’an City Wall, which encloses the historical heart of the old city. With a circumference of 8.5 miles and a height ranging from 40-50 feet, this massive fortification—the most well preserved ancient rampart in China—was built to guard the old town of Xi’an. It was built on the ruins of an earlier wall that guarded Changan, Xi’an’s name when it was the capital of the Tang Dynasty (618-907AD). Though entirely renovated, the wall’s ramparts, sentry towers, corner towers, gates, and battlements richly evoke its historic past.
A great example of Ming Dynasty (1368-1644AD) architecture is Xi’an’s Bell Tower. Located close to the City Wall, the Bell Tower was built by Emperor Zhu Yuanzhang in 1384AD. Impressive at the time for its 118-foot-tall height, the structure provided a key lookout position over the surrounding countryside. Following the City Wall and Bell Tower visit, explore the Forest of Stone Tablets, which contains China’s finest collection of calligraphy by famous ancient masters, and visit the Muslim quarter, where the way of life derives as much from the ancient cultures of Central Asia as from China. For over 1,300 years, Muslims have been an integral part of the colorful daily life of Xi’an. Dinner is at one of the city's most popular dumpling restaurants, where the kitchen prepares a near endless number of sweet and savory fillings inside delicate wraps. We'll even be able to roll up our sleeves and fill some dumplings ourselves. Overnight at hotel...BLD
Yangling Mausoleum / Beijing / Depart
Explore the Yangling Mausoleum, which is the tomb of Liu Qi, the fourth Emperor of the Western Han Dynasty (206 BC to 220 AD) and his wife, the Empress Wang. The tomb was unearthed in 1999 and has provided archeologists with a trove of thousands of unique pottery figurines. Continue to the airport and fly to Beijing...B