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Xi'an
 
Xi'an was one of the most important cradles of Chinese civilization. It marked the start of the famous "Silk Road" that linked China with central Asia and the Roman Empire. And it served as the first capital of a unified China and capital of 11 dynasties periodically from the 11th century B.C. to the early 10th century A.D. Xi'an, or Chang'an as it was called in ancient times, is known as the city of "Everlasting Peace." Located between rivers and mountains in the center of the fertile Guanzhong Plain in Shaanxi Province, Xi'an--the provincial capital--was a natural place to nurture the nation's civilization. Aside from being a major tourist destination and historical city, today Xi'an is an important industrial and manufacturing centre. Despite the incredible history that Xi'an carries, it is a modern and prosperous area. The nightlife here is pretty up to date and Xi'an Jiaotong University is considered to be one of the best in China. As a result, the city has a large student population who contribute to the cultural life of the city, making Xi'an one of the most pleasant cities in China and an ideal place to break the journey between Beijing and Shanghai.

Xi'an is in the temperate zone with the continental climate. There are 4 distinct seasons in a year.

The local highlights: Terracotta Warriors, ancient city walls, Forest of Stone Steles, etc.

The Terra Cotta Warriors and Horses are the most significant archeological excavations of the 20th century. Work is ongoing at this site, which is around 1.5 kilometers east of Emperor Qin Shi Huang's Mausoleum, Lintong County, Shaanxi province. It is a sight not to be missed by any visitor to China. Life size terracotta figures of warriors and horses arranged in battle formations are the star features at the museum. They are replicas of what the imperial guard should look like in those days of pomp and vigor. The museum covers an area of 16,300 square meters, divided into three sections. The Terracotta Warriors and Horses is a sensational archeological find of all times. It has put Xian on the map for tourists. It was listed by UNESCO in 1987 as one of the world cultural heritages.

When Zhu Yuanzhang, the first Emperor of the Ming dynasty (1368-1644), captured Huizhou, a hermit named Zhu Sheng admonished him that he should "built high walls, store abundant food supplies and take time to be an Emperor," so that he could fortify the city and unify the other states. Since the ancient weapons did not have the power to break through a wall and the only way for an enemy to enter the city was by attacking the gate of the city wall. This is why complicated gate structures were built within the wall. In Xian, the city wall includes four gates.

Once the site of the Temple of Confucius during the Northern Song dynasty (960--1127), the Forest of Stone Steles Museum is situated on Sanxue Street, near the south gate of Xian City Wall. It was initially established in AD 1087 when some precious stone steles were moved here for safe keeping, including the "Classic on Filial Piety" written by Emperor Xuanzong in AD 745 and "the Kaicheng Stone Steles" arved in AD 837. With an area of 31,000 square meters, the Forest of Stone Steles used to be the principal museum for Shaanxi Province since 1944. Then because of the large number of stone steles, it was officially named as the Forest of Stone Steles Museum in 1992. With 900 years of history, this treasure house holds a large collection of the earliest stone steles of different periods, from the Han Dynasty to the Qing Dynasty. All together, there are 3,000 steles and the museum is divided into seven exhibitions halls, which mainly display the works of calligraphy, painting and historical records. All of these record some achievements in the development of the Chinese culture and reflect the historical facts of the cultural exchanges between China and other countries.