A to Z Abroad: Xi’an City Wall


A trip to Xi’an, China is not complete without a walk around the famed city wall. First built back in 194 B.C. and rebuilt by the Ming Dynasty in the 14th century, Xi’an’s city wall is one of the most complete and well-preserved relics of Chinese history.  Fully restored, the wall looks as good as it did when it was first built, if not better!

As usual, I wandered away from the group to explore the wall at my own pace. While they rode away on rented bicycles, I took a leisurely stroll and followed the red lanterns from one end of the wall to the other.

Xi’an City Wall, China
Photo by: c.b.w. 2005

While first built to protect Xi’an from invaders, the wall today is place for locals and tourists alike to enjoy a walk above busy city streets and away from crowded sidewalks. The wide berth of the wall allows for pedestrians and bicyclists to peacefully coexist!

Walking along the Xi’an City Wall
Photo by: c.b.w. 2005

More than 8 miles long and 39 feet in height, a stroll along wall offers fantastic views of the city and beautiful gardens. The surprising thing about both Xi’an and Beijing is how much plant life is present along the streets. Trees and potted plants are everywhere!

A view of Xi’an from the city wall.
Photo by: c.b.w. 2005

Along the way, there is beautiful historical architecture. Buildings that once served as lookout towers are now tourist centers, retail shops, or exhibits, but the old world flare still flows from curved roofs and intricate stonework.

Architecture on Xi’an’s city wall.
Photo by: c.b.w. 2005

After walking for more than an hour in 90 percent humidity and 90 degree weather, I was thankful to find a kiosk selling Magnum ice cream bars. Surprisingly, I’d never had a Magnum until I went to China! Of course, those delectable ice cream bars are sold back home, but it took traveling almost 6,000 miles to find them.

With Magnum bar in hand,  I traveled the red lantern path until it was time to meet back up with the group.  I’m sure they had fun flying down the wall on their bikes, but I was grateful for a slower pace and ice cream!

Red lanterns on Xi’an’s city wall.
Photo by: c.b.w. 2005

The red lanterns and flags represent good luck and happiness, which makes my walk on the wall even more memorable. With those bright colors swirling about and centuries deep history beneath my feet, I couldn’t stop smiling.

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Part of the A to Z Challenge!


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c.b.w. 2013