Xian's ancient City Wall is the most intact ancient Chinese wall in existence. It encircles and protects the ancient part of Xian City. Xian was the capital of thirteen different Chinese dynasties, so the need for a defensive structure such as the city wall was imperative. Visitors rarely fail to miss this attracton or be impressed by the grandness and simple beauty of the wall in their Xian tours.
The City Wall seen today was constructed on the foundations of the city walls from the Sui (581-617) and Tang (618-904) Dynasties, during the reign of Emperor Hongwu (1370-1378) of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1627). The current six hundred year old City Wall is the most integrated ancient City Wall in China.
The wall is 13,912 meters in circumference, 12 meters in height, the foundation is 18 meters in width, and the top of the wall is 15 meters wide. There are four city gates in the four cardinal directions. The Changle Gate is located in the East side, the Anding Gate is located in the West side, the Yongning Gate is located in the South side, and the Anyuan Gate is located in the North side of the ancient City Wall. The ancient City Wall features a series of watchtowers, turrets, crenels and gate towers, all surrounded by a moat. These features make up an integrated city defense system. In 1983 Shaanxi Province decided to do a large scale restoration of the wall to restore it to its original appearance. They added a park around the outside of the wall and restored its ancient gate towers.
Xian has utilized defensive structures for many thousands of years. Archaeologists have discovered at Xian's Banpo site that the ancient Banpo people dug a deep ditch around their residences to prevent wild animals and other tribes from entering their areas. With the development of technology the defensive works become more solid and impenetrable. Starting from the simple moats dug by their ancient ancestors, the defensive works evolved into the rammed earth walls of the Sui Dynasty, to the eventual solid stone and brick City Wall that can be seen now.
Xian's ancient City Wall plays an important role in Xian history. Since the wall is intact, visitors can rent a bicycle and ride around the ancient city on the top of the wall. It gives them a chance to look into the ancient city and imagine what life would have been like for its ancient inhabitants. The park surrounding the ancient City Wall is beautiful and is worth a look. At night, the City Wall is lit up and looks quite stunning.
"The Marathon of Xi'an City Wall" is now an international sport. The course is 13.7 KM (the circumference of the Xi'an City Wall is 13.7 KM). Participants in the full marathon will conquer the city wall three times, while the 1/3 marathon will travel the Wall only once.
Recommended China Tour incl. Xian Ancient City Wall: 11-Day Classic China Tour
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