Qian Tomb


This impressive tomb, 85km northwest of town, is the final resting place of China's sole female emperor, Wu Zetian (AD 625–705), who is buried here with her husband Emperor Gaozong, whom she succeeded. The long Spirit Way (神道, Shéndào) is lined with enormous, lichen-encrusted sculptures of animals and officers of the imperial guard, culminating with 61 (now headless) statues of leaders of ethnic groups in China who attended the emperor's funeral. Two stelae on the ground each stand more than 6m high.

The Wordless Stele (Wúzi Bēi) is a blank tablet; one story relates how it symbolises Empress Wu's absolute power, which she considered inexpressible in words. Behind is a small hill that you can climb for views of the countryside. Tour bus 2 (¥25, 8am) runs close to here from Xi'an train station and returns in the late afternoon. The nearby tombs of Princess Yong Tai and Prince Zhang Huai are included in the admission fee.

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