Location: Northeast of Xian city, Lintong County, Shaanxi Province
Time to Visit: Throughout the year
Preferred Timings: 8 am to 6 pm
Admission Fee: CNY 90 (1st Mar to 30th Nov); CNY 65 (1st Dec to 28th/ 29th Feb)
How to Reach: By bus 914 or Tourist Carriage 5 from East Square of Xian Railway Stn.
Nearest Railway Station: Xian Railway Station
Nearest International Airport: Xian International Airport
Time required for sightseeing: 3 hours
This is one of the single most stupendous achievements in human art! One of the most ambitious projects taken by any group of artists! It is almost baffling in its striking naturalism and the sheer motivation amazes us. An entire army of 7000 in clay! Lifesize, in full battle armaments, poised for attack and defense, as if ready to move at any given moment — the Terracotta Soldiers of China. Unearthed in 1974, this is considered to be the greatest archaeological discovery of the 20th century. These idols dating back 2000 years represent the imperial guard of Qin Shi Huang, the first emperor of China. This historical site in Xian is a UNESCO world cultural heritage site.
The discovery of this site in Lintong County in Shaanxi Province was by accident. Local farmers while digging for wells 1.5 kilometers east of Qin Shi Huang’s mausoleum discovered some terracotta figures. On further excavations in Xian in 1974 a vault containing terracotta soldiers, horses and chariots were discovered and subsequently ‘Museum of Qin Terra Cotta Warriors and Horses’ established in 1975. Later excavations led to the unearthing of two more pits in 1976.
Pit 1 is the largest of the three, while Pit 2 located 20 meters northeast of Pit 1 contained about a thousand warriors and around 90 wooden chariots. A third pit was discovered 25 meters northwest of Pit 1. With 68 soldiers, 4 horses and one war chariot this pit seems to represent the command center of the imperial army. In totality around 7000 terracotta warriors have been unearthed which are believed to have accompanied emperor Qin Shi Huang after his death to protect his soul.
The first pit was opened to the public in 1979 on China’s National Day, Pit 3 in 1989 and Pit 2 in 1994. The entire museum comprising these three pits is spread over 16,300 square meters.
You will be stunned by the neat details of the terracotta soldiers. Their facial features, expressions, gesture, hairstyle, and clothing are impeccable. Many of these terracotta warriors carried real weapons like spears, arrowheads, longbows, dagger-axes and bronze swords. Further, the terracotta soldiers consisting of cavalry, the archers, the long bow bearers, and senior officials were arranged in a particular order. The entire army formation armed with real weapons presents a unique spectacle.
Pit 1 or vault 1 measuring 210 meters by 62 meters and with varying depths of 4 Â½ meters to 6 Â½ meters have ten walls forming 9 corridors each of width 2 Â½ meters. Notice the 6000 armed soldiers with daggers, halberds, and long spears, along with 38 horse-driven chariots. You will be surprised by the arrangement of soldiers in the second pit. In this pit of 6000 square feet area and depth of 5 meters, the first row of soldiers are standing or kneeling archers, the second unit comprises the charioteers, the third is a combination of troopers, charioteers and infantry. The last unit comprises troopers.
Do not miss to see the horse drawn bonze chariots in the Exhibition Hall. Unearthed in December 1980, the carriages of bronze are made up of 3400 parts and are drawn by four horses. The bronze carriage with the horses weighs around 1234 kg, and carries a load of 7 kg of gold and silver ornaments. This masterpiece is not only the biggest bronze creation in China but also in the world.
You must not miss the Tomb of Qin Shi Huang which was constructed between 246 and 235 B.C. together with the Museum of Qin Terra Cotta Warriors and Horses on your nest visit to China.