Back in 2011 when my parents visited for their first time China we decided to take a look at the famous Terracotta Army. During the week my parents were in China we tried to see as much as possible around Xi’an. It was certainly not easy as my parents are not the youngest anymore but they tried their best. The excavation site with the museum is located in Lintong District, Xi’an. As we stayed in the city center it took us about 45min by car to get to the famous place.
During that day we had staggering +39 degrees celsius ~102 degrees fahrenheit. For unknown reasons we had the whole week already blue sky and hence less smog to protect us from the intensely burning sun. Nearly all of my memories from that trip are actually all about getting from one place with air-condition to the next without spending too much time outside.
Before we actually went to see the terracotta warriors we made a short stop at a workshop which focused not only one copying terracotta warriors but also making and reconstructing old Chinese furniture. Even though the whole place was basically a tourist trap we enjoyed it there as we did not go as a tourist group but with some family friends who know some people who know someone so we could actually skip the shops and concentrate on the art and have alook behind the scenes in that workshop. It was really interesting to see how they “copied” terracotta warriors but also how they custom designed few of them by modeling the faces according to some wishes of paying customers. Furthermore we could watch how they made a lacquer table and the many steps were explained to us. The place was filled with wonderful furniture and I actually would have bought tons of it in case money and luggage space wouldn’t be an issue…
After that we finally set out for the terracotta warriors. Even though it was so terrible hot it was still filled with tourists. The hardest part for us was the trip from the car, through the entrance, following the near endless path to the main museum buildings. Though in retrospect the way was perhaps only a 15min walk it still felt like hours. To make matters worse there were several places selling stinky tofu. The heat and the smell was near overkill for me and my parents, my wife actually enjoyed it though.
In the end we managed it to reach the main area. As my mind was badly effected by the heat and the stinky tofu I can not tell you anymore the exact layout except that there were several buildings and pits. We visited first the biggest building which was a museum with a collection of the artifacts found in that area. Needless to say it was packed with people and it was hard to take any pictures without any head poking into the camera. The best part for me was of course the fact that the air condition kept me away from the melting point. There were so many rooms to visit in that building that it took us a long time to go through it. In this case a tour guide would have been nice but it was also nice to be more flexible and set our own pace.
After watching countless of artifacts we managed to go to Pit 1. There are several Pits in various sizes but Pit 1 is probably most famous as it is just huge and has rows after rows of the terracotta warriors standing guard. I only have a few pictures as I was more concerned on video taping everything with my other camera while trying to survive the heat, yes the heat, as there was no air condition in that huge hall resulting also that we tried to hurry around and be done with it.
All in all I can say that visiting the terracotta army is a must when staying for some time in Xi’an but it is certainly not my favorite place. All the information you can get there about the past is certainly great but somehow I just could not enjoy it, it might be also due to the fact that I was near a heat stroke and thus my recollection of that day is messed up.
For more information about the Terracotta Army simply check out what Wikipedia as to say about it.
Have you visited the Terracotta Army already? What are the places you would love to visit in China?
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