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Once the terminus of the Silk Road and a gathering place of cultures and religions, as well as being home to emperors, courtesans, poets, monks, merchants and warriors, the glory days of Xi'an (西安, Xī’ān; pronounced 'see-an') may have ended in the early 10th century, but a considerable amount of ancient Chang’an, the former city, survives behind the often roaring, modern metropolis . Xi'an’s Ming-era city walls remain intact, vendors of all descriptions still crowd the narrow lanes of the warren-like Muslim Quarter, and there are enough places of interest to keep even the most amateur historian riveted.

Most people only spend two or three days in Xi'an; dynastic enthusiasts could easily stay busy for a week. Must-sees include the Army of Terracotta Warriors, the Tomb of Emperor Jingdi, Xi'an City Walls and the Muslim Quarter, but try to set aside time for its pagodas and museums, plus a side trip to nearby Hua Shan.