Xi'an enjoys a status equal to that of ancient Athens, Cairo and Rome. Situated on China’s southern Guanzhong plain, it is surrounded by hills, mountains and rivers, an auspicious combination of natural features according to Chinese tradition.
The area’s abundance of cultural and historical attractions has led to the entire area being known as a 'Natural History Museum'. The two most important sites to visit are the Museum of Terra Cotta Warriors and Horses, considered by many to be the 8th wonder of the world and the City Wall of the Ming dynasty (14th to 17th centuries), which is the largest Ming dynasty fortification in existence.
At the edge of the city are remains of the 3,000 year-old Neolithic Banpo village (dating back to 8000 to 5000BC), and a Forest of Stone Steles, featuring 3,000 inscribed stone tablets from the Han through the Qing dynasties. Outside the city, the Famen Temple is a sacred site to Buddhists, as it contains the finger bones of Sakyamuni (the Buddha). Mount Huashan, a reasonable drive away, is one of the best-known mountains in China, known for its breathtaking cliffs and popular with climbers as well as visitors.
Xian is praised as the “capital of table delicacies”, boasting delicious Shaanxi snacks, eateries featuring the delicate local cuisine, many varieties of foreign delicacies and the much-enjoyed dishes from Sichuan. The most famous and popular eating area in the city is the Muslim Snacks Street.
Since the beginnings of the earliest civilizations, and continuing for a period of more than a thousand years, Xian served as the capital for twelve dynasties. At one time it was the centre of oriental culture on the Silk Road trading route and the many dynasties maintained the city’s beauty and magnificence. The emperors of the various dynasties also left impressive monuments to themselves, having magnificent mausoleums constructed.