Xī’ān City Walls
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Mǎ Hóng Xiǎochǎo Pàomóguǎn
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Xī’ān City Walls information
Xī'ān is one of the few cities in China where the imposing old city walls still stand. Built in 1370 during the Ming dynasty, the magnificent 12m-high walls are surrounded by a dry moat and form a rectangle with a perimeter of 14km. Most sections have been restored or rebuilt, and it is possible to walk the walls in their entirety in a leisurely four hours (or around two hours by bike, or at a slow jog).
Cycling from the South Gate costs ¥40 for 100 minutes (¥200 deposit), while the truly lazy can be whisked around in a golf cart for ¥200. Access ramps are located inside the major gates, with the exception of the South Gate, where the entrance is outside the walls; there's another entrance inside the walls beside the Forest of Stelae Museum . En route, you get to look out over modern-day Xī'ān. From this vantage point it's clear that the city is a hodgepodge of old and new, with the new vastly in the ascendancy. Every now and then a slice of old Xī'ān, such as Guǎngrén Temple , appears and you are rewarded with a bird's-eye view.
To get an idea of Xī'ān's former grandeur, consider this: the Tang city walls originally enclosed 83 sq km, an area seven times larger than today's city centre.