Xi’an has much to offer besides the main sites such as the Terracotta Warriors, the Small and the Big Wild Goose Pagoda, Beiyuanmen “Muslim Street” with the Great Mosque and numerous burial sites. Not every attraction is suitable for everyone so you got to choose what you really would like to see in case of a short visit as usually two or three days are just not enough to see much. And believe me, there is so much to see that it takes months just to visit all the places advertised in city guides and other sources.
During all my visits in Xi’an I have probably visited all major tourist spots and multiple locations which are more known to the locals. This resulted during my last visit that I felt kind of empty. I wanted to see more of the city but my wife had no motivation to just go through the streets, she wanted to visit only spots she hasn’t seen before. So I started my research on search engines for some place we haven’t visited yet and after a long day I found it; something called the Gao Family Mansion located in Beiyuanmen. Wait, what? Located at the Muslim street? I had been several times and never ever saw anything like this Mansion nor did my wife or her parents have any idea about it.
Next day we headed to Beiyuanmen (just 5min walk from my parents-in-law’s home) in search of that building. We walked about and down there for around 30min with no luck until we saw a little tourist group going through an entrance between food vendors. We followed them and there it was, the place we had been searching for: The Gao Family Mansion
Now first some basic information about the Gao Family Mansion:
- Built over 400 years ago during Ming Dynasty
- stretched over 2.500sqm (~26,910square feet)
- 86 rooms of which 56 or so are opened for public
- Due to a Project of Sino-Norway Historical Districts Protection in 1999 it was completely repaired (Thanks Norway!)
I don’t remember the entrance fee anymore but it was very cheap. Inside the mansion you can spend some more money on a tea ceremony and a shadow puppetry show but we skipped those. I guess we walked around for nearly two hours there, going through the several rooms and floors (my wife loved the talking myna birds because of their compliments to her beauty and I was fascinated by the turtles).
I can only recommend a visit there, it is pretty much in the middle of Beiyuanmen, there is much to see for little money and most importantly it is very quiet there. As long as you don’t look up to the neighbouring buildings you can’t believe that you are actually in the center of bustling city with over 8 million inhabitants.
Do you have found any wonderful places which are not heavily advertised in other cities?
Some more information of the Gao Family Mansion:
8 thoughts on “The Gao Family Mansion, Xi’an”
The out-of-the-way places are the best. One place I remember from a visit to China was the home of a famous ancient calligrapher. There were only a handful of tourists there. We saw his house, samples of his writing, and a small creek that he used to sit beside with his guests playing poetry-writing-drinking games. I felt as though I’d stepped into a time machine (in my imagination).
That was a place hard to find, glad you find it and sounds like you had a good time wandering around. It looks like a very traditional place from your photos, well-kept and still standing in one piece. There doesn’t seem to be any tacky souvenir stories around too unlike some other tourist attractions I’ve visited in Malaysia and Indonesia – just the beauty of the palace for your eyes. I have never found a “hole in the wall” place here in Melbourne – yet. I need to get out and start exploring 🙂
I really like the hole in the wall kind of entrance, reminds me of a hobbit hole entrance.
Next time I am in Xi’an I will visit this place again to take better pictures (all my old pictures are done with an old Nokia N8 but since then I have upgraded to a nice Sony Alpha 58 to have more enjoyable pictures for the futre)
I thought your photos turned out great. I always love hole in the wall kind of pathways, you never know what to expect on the other end. I think we have a better chance of discovering such entrances if we go to unfamiliar places – we’re so much more observant when we’re in foreign situations and places.
Cool! place 🙂 🙂 🙂
Hey thanks 🙂
I am following also your blog now and thus far the pictures from your travels? were very interesting. Can you add maybe somehow the comment box in your blog postings?
I’ve tried an give up. I emails wordpress about it an didn’t get any help. they just said: we see that people are commenting your posts
You can click on my videos too and see if you like them. I love your blog name. anything with crazy in it is great. we should make a wordpress group 🙂