After exiting the Forest of Stone Steles Museum, my next destination was the world famous Xian City Wall tour. After leaving the museum from the main entrance, take a right turn heading west, walk about 50 feet, and you’ll come up to a side entrance leading to the Xian city walls. There are many these types of entrances to the city wall. The cost to get on the Xian city wall is $40 yuan.
I was at the city wall around 4pm in the afternoon - it was past the peak of the heat wave of the day, but being on top of the city wall with absolutely no shade, it felt like I was standing in an oven getting baked. The sun and the heat, although bearable, was quite a pain to deal with. I would highly recommend touring the Xian city wall later in the evening when it's not as hot, and the sun is about to set. Then you can really enjoy the beautiful scenery of Xian city and get an unobsecured view of almost the entire city.
Picture taken on top of the Xian City Wall
If you must tour the city walls during day time, bring an umbrella and plenty of water with you.
On Top of the Xian City Wall
As you can see from the photo above, the city wall is extremely wide. The city walls enclose an area of 11.5 square kilometers. The city wall itself measures 12 to 15 meters tall, 12 to 14 meters wide at the top, and 15 to 18 meters wide at the base. I had a brief chat with the gate keeper who sold me the entrance ticket, and asked him about construction of the city wall.
It should come as no surprise that what we see today of the Xian city wall is a completely rebuild / renovated version of the historical city walls. The gatekeeper told me that in the past (probably around the 1940's or 50's), residence actually removed bricks from the city walls to construct residential houses. So I asked him if any of the actual wall still remained, and he said "of course". He told me that underneath the renovation, lies the remains of the original city wall. The original mud, dirt, rocks, bricks etc still make up the core of the Xian city walls.
History of Xian City Wall
The Tang Dynasty (618 - 907) had originally built city walls around Xian. Later on, during the Ming Dynasty, the City Wall of Xian was built again (expanded), on the foundation of the Ming Dynasty walls, and it took four years, from 1374 to 1378 to build the walls.
Because it was scortching hot, and I was getting baked, I didn't quite feel like making my way around the 13km long city wall. I probably ended up touring about a quarter of that. :)
Biking On Xian City Wall
On top of the city wall, you can rent bicycles and use that to bike around the city walls. The fee is $20 yuan for 100 minutes, which is roughly the amount of time needed to make a full trip around the Xian city wall. It's best to go after 7pm when its not so hot, and you can enjoy your bike tour on the city wall.
I came up to the south main gates, and that's where I made my exit. The south gate is a large square area that has two exits, a north and a south exit. The north exit leads to inside the city center, while the south exit has a hanging bridge that lead to the outside of the city in old times. I exited through the north gate, so I could head north back to my hotel.
South main gate to the Xian city walls.