The Xi'an City Wall
The City Wall
There is a huge city wall encompassing much of the city, and is well worth a visit. One can walk around the top of the wall, but estimates are that it would take around 4 hours.
You can hire bicycles on the top of the wall, and there are double cycles so that two people can pedal the same bike - could be parent and child, or just a couple. There were many doing just that on the day I visited.
My time was limited so I chose to take the "bus" which is a large golf cart style "bus" which is more than adequate. The bus stops are each main gate area,and with a good camera it is possible to take quality photos along the way. I sat at the rear of the bus, so it was easier to use my camera.
The surface of the road is a little bumpy, and at times one must get off the bus as it goes up or down a ramp. I noted that older/physically challenged people could remain on the bus for this exercise.
I had walked to the South Gate from my hotel and found it difficult to find the entrance. I do think there is an entrance from the outside of the wall, but I found a young man who escorted me through peak hour traffic (the South Gate has traffic going around it making it the centre of a roundabout, and peak hour traffic is quite a challenge. It was comforting to have a local with me as we dodged buses and cars hurtling around. (The guy was a student at a local university, had been learning English for a year and was about to leave for the UK to study commerce!)
It is a long walk up to the top of the wall, and once there I could see how big it is now, and wonder about the size of it before it was destroyed all those years ago.
Xi'an or Chang'an as it was known at that time, was devastated in 904 at the end of the Tang Dynasty. The locals moved away at that time. Only a small area in the city continued to be occupied thereafter. It was during the Ming Dynasty (in 1370) that a new wall was built, and this is the wall that we see today, though it is much smaller than the original wall.
The wall measures 11.9 km in circumference, 12 m in height, and 15–18 m (49.21–59.06 ft) in thickness at the base; a moat was also built outside the walls. The new wall and moat would protect a much smaller city of 12 km². (Source - Wikipedia)
It really is huge, and surprisingly wide when one gets up the top. One of my students told me that four people could ride side by side on a bicycle on the wall. I'd suggest it could be more like 24 people could ride side by side.
On circumnavigation on the bus you wonder if you will ever come to the end!!!
The views of this day were not as good - shame I had not had time the previous day as the sky had been clear. The pollution on the day I visited was shameful.
There was no English information for me, and not much for my Chinese fellow travellers. It is well worth a visit, but allow at least half a day or more to do this trip. There is a fee to pay to get onto the wall, and further charges of course for transport on the wall.