Introducing Shaanxi (Shǎnxī)
Shaanxi (陕西) is where it all started for China. As the heartland of the Qin dynasty, whose warrior emperor united much of China for the first time, Shaanxi was the cradle of Chinese civilisation. Later on, Xī’ān was the beginning and end of the Silk Road and a buzzing, cosmopolitan capital long before anyone had heard of Běijīng.
Shaanxi’s archaeological sites makes it an essential destination. Around Xī’ān there’s an excavated Neolithic village and numerous royal graves; chief among them the tomb of Qin Shi Huang and his private army of terracotta warriors. Shaanxi has its share of contemporary history too; the caves around Yán’ān were the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) base in the 1930s and ‘40s.
Xī’ān is an emergent travellers hub, with good nightlife, museums, ancient pagodas and a fascinating Muslim Quarter. Set aside time to get into the rural areas, with its fascinating villages barely touched by modern life and mountains that were once home to hermits and sages.
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