Tomb of Qin Shi Huang

Historic Site in Xī'ān

In its time this tomb must have been one of the grandest mausoleums the world had ever seen. Historical accounts describe it as containing palaces filled with precious stones, underground rivers of mercury and ingenious defences against intruders. The tomb reputedly took 38 years to complete, and required a workforce of 700,000 people. It is said that the artisans who built it were buried alive within, taking its secrets with them.

Archaeologists have yet to enter the tomb but probes and sensors have been sent inside. Levels of mercury inside exceed 100 times normal concentrations, temptingly adding credence to some of the legends. Since little has been excavated there isn’t much to see but you can climb the steps to the top of the 76m-high mound for a fine view of the surrounding countryside.

The Terracotta Warriors bus from Xī’ān train station stops at the tomb, which is 2km west of the warriors.