Mentioned in countless China travel guides and sometimes referred to as the ‘eighth wonder of the World’, the Terracotta Army (The Army) is a must-see attraction. If you have ever watched the 2008 Hollywood movie, ‘The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor’, then this is in line with what you can expect to see at The Army and all the more reason to travel to Xi’an. The exquisite representation of these periodic sculptures will captivate your imagination over China’s ancient past.

Discovered by locals in 1974 and covering over 16,000 meters squared, The Army holds great significance not only as a find, but also as an important part of China’s history. The manufacturing of the (potentially 8,000) ceramic warriors is a magnificent achievement to personify the first Emperor of unified China in the Qin Dynasty (211-206 BC). Along with the warriors, the Emperor Qin Shi Huang is supposedly protected in the afterlife by over 100 horse and 500 chariots. At first glance, warriors appear as refined pieces of art in pristine condition. Yet it is amazing the think that on discovery The Army was a cluster of piece and that it took years to reconfigure the statutes currently on view. Admittedly, to this day, not all the statutes have been found and the excavations are a work in progress. For this reason, tourists are prohibited from taking photos in the excavation areas.

Indeed, with three pits, and exhibition area and the Emperor’s Mausoleum to observe, there is little reason to be disappointed with what the museum has to offer. Take note, however, that there is a fair distance from the entrance of the museum grounds to the actual exhibition area. This stretch can be referred to as a ‘tourist trap’ considering the amount of shops selling the same items and tour guides encouraging you to sign up with their tour. Interestingly, as we figured out, the further you walk into the museum grounds, the price of the tour guides generally reduces. Also, actually in the area around the pits, be prepared to have people persistently trying to sell, typically a box of terracotta warriors, to you. Still, due to the quantity of these identical items, you will be guaranteed to get a cheap deal through haggling.

As a consequence of The Army’s monumental impact, the site was accordingly given World Cultural Heritage status by UNESCO in 1987. The museum itself is rather expensive at 150RMB, but as this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience perhaps it is worth stretching the purse strings and provides a good excuse to book China flights sooner rather than later.





Jack Li

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