Xian Ancient City Wall

Why is Xian Ancient City Wall So Special?

  1. The Xi’an City Wall is on the tentative list of UNESCO’s World Heritage Site under the title “City Walls of the Ming and Qing Dynasties”.
  2. Since 2008, it is also on the list of the State Administration of Cultural Heritage of the People’s Republic of China. Since March 1961, the Xi’an City Wall is a heritage National Historical and Cultural Unit.
  3. The first landmark visitors will encounter in Xi’an is the ancient city wall, which surrounds the old city in a large square area. The northern side runs parallel to the railway.

Brief Introduction of Xian Ancient City Wall

The fortifications of Xi’an (西安城墙), also known as Xi’an City Wall, in Xi’an, an ancient capital of China, represent one of the oldest, largest and best preserved Chinese city walls. It was built under the rule of the Hongwu Emperor Zhu Yuanzhang as a military defense system. It exhibits the “complete features of the rampart architecture of feudal society”. It has been refurbished many times since it was built in the 14th century, thrice at intervals of about 200 years in the later half of the 1500s and 1700s, and in recent years in 1983. The wall encloses an area of about 14 square kilometres (5.4 sq mi).

History & Structure of Xian Ancient City Wall

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. After the establishment of the Ming dynasty, Zhu Yuanzhang followed his advice and began to enlarge the wall built initially during the old Tang Dynasty (618 – 907), forming today’s scale of Xi’an City Wall.

Xian City Wall was built on base of the Palace of Tang Dynasty. The existing wall was started during the Ming Dynasty in 1370; it is massive, measuring 13.7 km in circumference, 12 m in height, and 15–18 m in thickness at the base.

There is a enemy tower every 120 meters standing out of the wall, as high as the city wall, which is used for shooting enemies. There are 98 enemy towers around the city wall. Out of the wall, there is a city moat, which is 20 m wide and 10 m deep, forming a complete defense system with the city wall.

Xian Ancient City has four gates at south, north, east and west, the four directions: Changle Gate, Anding Gate, Yongning Gate and Anyuan Gate. Outside each gate, there is a barbican. Each gate has 3 buildings: the gate, the embrasured watchtower and the inner building. The inner building is 7-room wide, and 2-room deep, 36 m high, while the embrasured watchtower is 11-room wide, 2-room deep, with a height of 33.4 m. The embrasured watchtower has 4 layers of windows, and each window has 12 holes.

Best Time to Go to Xian Ancient City Wall

All year round. The peak season of traveling to Xi’an is in the spring and autumn. In summer the temperature is high with strong ultraviolet ray. It is easy to cause heat stroke under the blazing sun for quite a long time in outdoor, and sometimes it will rain, so tourists should watch the weather forecast in advance before visiting. What’s more, tourists need to put on sunscreen and try to avoid ultraviolet rays during the day time travel; Winter temperature is low, the wind is piercingly cold, only suitable for indoor attractions visiting.

Top Things to Do on Xi’an City Wall

Walking on the City Wall

As you leisurely stroll on some of the ancient city wall, you can best enjoy its inner and outer walls, watchtowers, moat, and landscaped environs, as well as slightly elevated views of the city. Having an expert guide will help you appreciate the city wall’s history. It is recommended that you visit in the late afternoon for the best combination of temperature and light for photography. It is also wonderful to stay till evening and enjoy the colorfully-lit wall and Xi’an night views.

Cycling on the City Wall

Cycling on the wall makes for a great way to get some terrific views of the city and a great way to get some exercise (after all that eating at the food street). As the wall is 13+ km (8+ miles) long, cycling is a good way to see more (or all) of it. The rental fee for a normal bike (not a tandem) is 40 yuan per bicycle for 1½ hours. We recommend that you rent a bicycle at the foot of the wall for a better price.

Xi’an City Wall International Marathon

The Xi’an City Wall International Marathon is the only marathon in the world on an ancient city wall (though there is also a Great Wall Marathon). It is a grand event combining history, culture, and marathon running. The event was founded in 1993 and has been held annually since. The 2019 Xi’an City Wall International Marathon will be held on Saturday April 20, starting at 8:30 am at the south gate of Xi’an City Wall. The scale of the event is 5,000 people, including 1,600 marathon runners, a 13.7 km event (one lap of the wall), and a 5 km event.

How Was the Wall Built?

Initially, the wall was built with layers of dirt, with the base layer including also lime and glutinous rice extract. Throughout the time the wall has been restored three times. In 1568, Zhang Zhi (the government officer of that period) was in charge to rebuild the wall with bricks. In 1781, another officer, Bi Yuan, refitted the wall and the gate towers. More recently (since 1983) the Shaanxi Provincial Government restored the wall again. The circular City Wall Park has been built along the high wall and the deep moat. The thriving trees and flowers decorate the classical Chinese architecture of the wall, adding additional beauty to the city of Xi’an.

How to get to Xian Ancient City Wall

Travel with ChinaDragonTours (top recommended)

If you want to get out of the traffic and hassle of navigation, you can book a private tour package that includes visiting, dining and transfer from us. Our local guide and driver will escort you to the Xi’an Ancient City Wall in the fastest and most convenient way and take care of all the details. You just have to focus on the visiting.

Independent Traveler

Getting to four main gates:

  • To the South Gate: Take metro line 2 to Yongningmen Station; bus no.6, 11, 12, 23, 46, 215, 239, 258, 600, 603, 608, 910, K600…and arrive at South Gate Station.
  • To the East Gate: Take bus no.8, 22, 27, 29, 33, 37, 43, 45, 102, 203, 218, 235, 252, 300, 527, 602, 604, or 903…and arrive at East Gate Station.
  • To the North Gate: Take metro line 2 to Anyuanmen Station; bus no.6, 26, 28, 33, 37, 39, 117, 205, 208, 214, 229, 236, or 511…and arrive at North Gate Station.
  • To the West Gate: Take bus no.4, 10, 15, 23, 31, 201, 205, 206, 215, 221, 222, 223, 300, 407, 504, 611 or 701…and arrive at West Gate Station.

Useful Travel Tips

  1.  Xi’an City Wall Bike Ride:
    Try biking on the Wall, you will have an enjoyable and interesting experience. To cycle round the wall for a whole circle takes 1.5 to 2 hours at a medium speed. The bicycle deposit is CNY 100. The single bicycle costs CNY 45/3 hours. The tandem bicycle costs CNY 90/3 hours.
    You will have to pay an extra charge if you cycle more than three hours. An extra 10 minutes costs CNY 5 for a bicycle, and CNY 10 for a tandem bicycle. Bicycles should be returned at the South Gate before 20:00 if you don’t return them before 18:00 at the other three gates.
  2. Sightseeing battery car:
    The ordinary sightseeing battery car costs CNY 80 for a circle ride while the luxurious one costs CNY 120. One can also visit the wall by sections. The ordinary type costs CNY 20 between two stops. The luxurious type costs CNY 30.
    Route: South Gate – West Gate – North Gate – East Gate
    * Business Hours for bicycle rental and sightseeing battery car:
    8:00 – 20:00 (South Gate); 8:15 – 18:00 (West Gate, North Gate and East Gate)
  3. Bus Bus Tours (South Line):
    The double-decker sightseeing bus runs from the Suspension Bridge Square. It provides a panorama view of the city, covering many famous attractions including the City Wall.
    Route: South Gate – West Park of the City Wall – West Gate – West Street – Bell Tower – East Gate – South Gate
    Service: drinking water/juice, guide
    Fare: CNY 68 (valid in 24 hours from your first boarding); CNY 98 (including the wall admission ticket)
    Hours: Mar – Oct: every hour from 9:00 to 17:00, while the last bus at 19:30; Nov – next Feb: every two hours from 9:00 to 17:00. Duration: 1.5 hours
  4. Free Performances at the South Gate Warrior Parade Performance (Barbican): 11:00, 14:00, 17:00.
    Relieving Guard Ceremony: 10:00, 15:00.

Nearby Attractions

Edited by Bella Ren/任新月