china edition


Xian - City Wall

Shaanxi - Xian - Yan'an

The Xian City Wall has a history of over 600 years since it was built in the early Ming dynasty. It is the best preserved, oldest and largest ancient city defence system in China. It is also one of the most important landmarks of Xian.

City WallThe original foundation of the City Wall was based on the ruins of the Imperial City Wall of Chang'an; the capital of the Tang dynasty. When Zhu Yuanzhang, the first Emperor of the Ming dynasty, 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".

Once the whole country was unified, he sent orders to the local governments to build city walls on a large scale.

After its completion, the circumference of the city wall was 13.75 kilometer long in an oblong shape. Its height is 12 meter, its top 12-14 meter wide and its base, 15-18 meter wide. Every 120 meter, there is a rampart which extends out from the main wall. The ramparts were built to allow soldiers to see those enemies who would try to climb the wall. There are altogether 98 of them on the wall. Each rampart has a sentry building, in which the soldiers could protect the entire wall without exposing themselves to the enemy. There are 5984 crenels served as lookout posts, firing at the enemy and shield of protection.

The weapons in ancient times were primitive and the only way for an enemy to enter the city was by attacking the gate of the city wall. Therefore, the feudal rulers try their best to complicate the wall. In Xian, the city wall includes 4 gates to the 4 directions; each consists of 3 gate towers, namely, Zhenglou, Jianlou and Zhalou.

The most outside is Zhalou, which stands away from the City Wall and is opposite to Zhenglou. It was used to raise and lower the suspension bridge. Jianlou with small windows in the front and flanks was used as a defensive outpost. Zhenglou, in the inner, is the main entrance to the city. The wall connects Jianlou and Zhenglou Towers. The area between them within the wall was called "Wong Cheng", in which the soldiers stationed. From Wong Cheng, there are sloped horse passages leading to the top of the city wall.

The first city wall of Xian was built with layers of dirt, with the base layer including also lime and glutinous rice extract. Later, the wall was totally enclosed with bricks. In 1983, the Shaanxi Provincial Government restored the city wall again. A circular park has been built along the high wall and the deep moat. The city wall has taken on a new look.