Seeing the famous Terracotta Army was to be the culmination of our stay in China. We specifically drove more than 1,000 kilometers from Beijing to see this remarkable place.
We saw a lot, a lot in Beijing, but we wanted to see more than Beijing. In a previous post we described our trip to Xi’an and the interesting places within the city walls (literally!). But let’s not kid ourselves: most people coming here have only one thing on their minds – the Terracotta Army.
And no wonder, this is an archaeological find on a global scale! Discovered relatively recently, in 1974, accidentally while drilling a well. It has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site and has made it one of the more frequently visited places in all of China, and the region has begun to reap quite a bit of benefits (about 2 million people visit the site annually).
It is even said to be the eighth wonder of the world. The famous warriors and horses made of scorched clay, standing in close ranks, buried in crypts, were tasked with guarding the tomb of China’s first emperor Qin Shi (the tomb itself is some 1.5 kilometers from the Army).
The clay figures were set up in special corridors made of brick, and were covered by a wooden ceiling. In total, the army consisted of 7,500 warriors and 600 horses, and included officers, generals, infantry, archers. Interestingly, none of the statues survived in their entirety, and what visitors see are reconstructions.
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How to reach the Terracotta Army?
But before about the place itself, here are some tips on how to get there.
Getting to the Terracotta Army from Xi’an is easy, but not easy (or is it the other way around? :) ). The key is to get on the right bus, and then it’s downhill from there.
Buses start at the square in front of the train station (if you had trouble locating this place, at the tourist information, on the password “Terracotta” they will point it out to you right away). It is important to take bus No. 5 (306) – this is the cheapest option (we paid about 7 CNY), as it is a regular bus service.
Next to it stand the buses of the competition, more expensive, to which I will try to encourage you with solicitors. We, of course, chose the economy version and after about an hour’s drive we were there. Here we still have a short walk through the city buildings, following the signs, to finally stand at the entrance…. To a separate building with ticket offices.
This is what a proper bus looks like:
And so zł, don’t get into those ;)
Tour of the Terracotta Army
Just entering the site of these fascinating archaeological finds is quite an expensive event – 150 CNY (but worth it in our opinion!). Tickets can be purchased in the large building just before the entrance gates. The size of the building indicates that there are sometimes long queues here, but during our visit there were none – the number of open windows meant that tickets could be purchased almost on the go (there are also self-service machines for the brave).
Once we bought the tickets and passed through the gates, it turned out that it was still not a hall with warriors and horses, but another walk awaited us, but fortunately it was a walk in the greenery and unluckily – in the rain. Although we have to admit that thanks to our handy Quechua Escape 30 backpacks from Decathlon, rain doesn’t scare us, as we found out the day before while exploring Xi’an :)
We finally arrived at the square, where there are main covered halls in which to view the statues. We started with the largest one (Pit 1), although we recommend you leave it for last, because after seeing the first one the others are no longer very impressive (Pit 2 and Pit 3 and the museum building).
The so-called “Pit 1” hall is a huge (really huge, the size of an airplane hangar!) hall in which visitors stand on a platform at the very front and can admire corridors with thousands of figures from an elevation.
You can also go through two corridors on the sides, but it is at the front that the place is most impressive.Please define valid width and height attributes for remote images. This will also optimize the loading time of the remote panorama.
Here we can find plaques with descriptions and the most interesting information and see some 2,000 warriors and horses facing east. They are all lined up in even rows, in corridors, and these figures are ready for battle (originally, there may have been as many as 6,000 of them in the corridors!).
The place knocks down the momentum and size, we have never seen anything like it in our lives! On the one hand, looking from the platform allows you to see the scale of the whole project, and on the other hand, looking from the corridors on the sides, you can see how perfect and precise the representation of the warriors was.
Standing here are infantry soldiers who held a spear or swords, archers with crossbows – the weapons are now no longer in their hands, but they were real, not made of clay or wood. It is worth knowing that each warrior has different facial features that express focus and readiness for action.
Soldiers wear elaborate clothing, headgear, and one can also spot jewelry and ornaments in their hair. Unfortunately, visitors are unable to see the true colors of the clothes, as these faded after the excavation was uncovered. The legs of each warrior were filled, while the bodies and heads were empty, making it easier to transport and assemble the figures.
However, we wouldn’t be ourselves if we didn’t point out a small, yet very important ‘but’ – it’s about the popularity of the place. We came to a very popular place, so we understand that it’s crowded and cramped and that everyone wants to take a photo, but it’s a shame that it was mostly a, “cyc foto” approach and I’m flying on. Few people stopped at the railing to learn anything, look at individual fighters, or at least read the information placards. We can only hope that they learned everything earlier from the guide ;-)
Wezła lot of time looking at the details and learning about the history of the place. And there were still other halls waiting. In another, smaller hall (Pit 2), you can admire more figures, about 1,300 warriors and horses. Here you can also see some soldiers up close: archers, a cavalryman, an officer and a general.
The smallest hall (Pit 3) houses “only” 72 warriors, and the place was probably the headquarters of the military.
There is also a museum at the complex, where we can learn some interesting information about the site, learn in detail about the history of the discovery, and look at soldiers, vehicles and horses.
The way back leads through numerous restaurants, fast food and souvenir stalls, where weary tourists eagerly pop in to eat before the road.
We came specifically to Xi’an to see the famous Terracotta Army and we absolutely do not regret it! It is a site that shows the immense amount of work that went into the construction of the mausoleum, especially considering how much detail was put into all the figures found here.
The place is unique and breathtaking. We have no doubt that you will not be disappointed coming here especially from the end of China ;)