Xian City Walls
The Xian City Walls are the best-preserved and largest city walls in China and one of the largest in the world. The walls were built by the orders of Emperor Hongwu (1368-1398), the first emperor of the Ming Dynasty, on the foundations left by old Tang Dynasty walls. The walls have been restored several times since then, the most recent renovation being completed since the year 2000, but the structure and features of the wall have remained unchanged. The imposing walls stand 12 meters high, are 15-18 meters wide at the base and 12-14 meters wide at the top and have a total length of 14km. Every 120 meters, a portion of the wall extends out to accommodate a sentry tower, ensuring there were no blind spots where attackers could hide. The walls had only four gates: at the north, south, east and west.
There are several entrance points to the wall, but the best one to use is at the South Gate. It’s possible to hire a bicycle to ride around the wall, or a rickshaw driver to take you around part of it (though the latter is over-priced so be sure to bargain). Alternatively, walking the wall will take around 3 hours and this is highly recommended for anyone who has the time. It’s a novel and atmospheric experience and also shows you many parts of the city of Xian that you wouldn’t otherwise see. Most of the outside of the wall is surrounded by a moat and well-landscaped gardens, which can also make for a pleasant walk.
Admission: ¥40. Open: 8:00-18:00.
Directions: The best entrance to the City Walls is at the inner side of the South Gate (directly south of the Bell Tower). You have to dash across a very busy street to get there.
Show the taxi driver: 请带我去南门, 谢谢。 (Please take me to the South Gate. Thank you.)