The Terracotta Warriors
One of China’s most famous attractions, the Terracotta Warriors require little introduction. All that needs to be said is that they have to be seen. As a background: the Terracotta Warriors guard the tomb of the Qin Dynasty Emperor Shi Huang (259-210BC). Shi Huang became ruler of the Kingdom of Qin in 246BC and by 221BC had conquered all his rivals, uniting China and founding the Qin Dynasty. Work on his tomb had begun at the time he first became king and was finished just in time for his death in 210BC. His tomb is situated about 1.5km west of the Terracotta Army. What remains to be seen is what else will be discovered in the vicinity.
The clay figures that have so far been unearthed are displayed in three pits. The life-size figurines each have a unique face, most were holding bronze weapons and stood in subterranean corridors made of earth and timber. Pit number one is the largest, holding over 6000 warriors and horses and boasting dimensions of 230 meters by 62 meters. Pits Two and Three are smaller and hold fewer figurines (Pit Two is still being excavated) but are just as interesting due to the different figurines on display and the different battle formations in which they are arranged.
The Museum of the Terracotta Warriors also boasts some good, if not extensive, explanations in English and it’s possible to hire an audio guide or a tour guide at the site. The area around the museum is infested with very pushy souvenir hawkers, but they’re only a minor inconvenience to put up with when visiting one of the world’s greatest archaeological discoveries.
Admission: ¥90 (¥45 for students). Open: 8:30-17:00.
Directions: Bus 306 departs from in front of the train station (a little east of the entrance) and goes to the Terracotta Warriors, stopping at Huaqing Pool and Qin Shi Huang’s Mausoleum if you also wish to visit those sites. The bus fare is ¥7 and the journey takes between 60 and 80 minutes, depending on traffic. Make sure you take the proper public bus and not a minivan with a pushy driver.
Show the taxi driver: 请带我去兵马俑，谢谢。 (Please take me to the Terracotta Warriors. Thank you.)