Xi'an, anciently called Chang'an, is the provincial capital of Shaanxi Province of China. It was authorized by the UNESCO as a world-famous historic city in 1981.
With a history of more than 3100 years, Xi'an is one of the four Great Ancient Capital Cities together with Athens, Rome and Cairo. From the 11th century BC to the 10th century A.D, there were a total of about 13 dynasties or regimes which made xian their capital. Among these dynasties, Xi'an was most prosperous during the Xizhou, Qin, Xihan and Tang dynasties. Especially, during the Han and Tang dynasties, Xi'an city was very grand and was an international city famous around the world. Xi'an was the start point of "Silk Road".
The Western Zhou Dynasty (1027-771 BC) ruled China from Xianyang (then called Hao), just outside present-day Xi'an. After the Zhous moved their capital to Luoyang in Henan province, Xianyang remained a large and influential city.
Qin Dynasty & the Terracotta Warriors:
From 221-206 BC, Qin Shi Huang Di unified China into a centralized feudal state. He used Xianyang, near Xi'an, as his base and the city became the capital of his empire. To protect his newly established state, Qin decided a large defense barricade was required and began work on what is today the Great Wall.
Despite his empire not seeing 2 decades, Qin is credited with founding the imperial system that saw China through the next 2,000 years. Qin bequested China with another tangible treasure: the Terracotta Army. It is estimated that 700,000 men worked on the tomb that took 38 years to build. Qin died in 210 BC.
Han and Eastern Han Dynasties & Chang'an
The Han, (206BC-220AD) who conquered the Qin, built their new capital at Chang'an, just north of present-day Xi'an. The town thrived and trade began with the Middle East and the Roman Empire, becoming the portal to the Silk Road, the trade route that led west. The Hans later also moved their capital to Luoyang in Henan province, but Chang'an remained a prosperous city due to its economic importance but declined in political influence.
Tang Dynasty - China's Golden Age
After the Hans, wars broke the country apart until the Sui Dynasty (581-618) was established. The Sui emperor began reviving Chang'an but it was the Tangs (618-907) who moved their capital back and established peace throughout China. The Silk Road trade flourished and Chang'an became a city of world-wide importance. Academics, students, traders and merchants from around the world visited Chang'an making it a cosmopolitan metropolis of its time.
Ancient City Wall of Xi'an - Reflection of the History of Xi'an
The first landmark visitors will encounter in Xi'an is its ancient City Wall, which stretches just outside the railway station. It is the most complete ancient city wall in China and one of the largest ancient military defensive systems in the world as well.