one of the most important cradles of Chinese civilization.
The famous “Silk Road” that linked China with central Asia
and the Roman Empire starts in Xi’an in the east. The city
served as the first capital of a unified China and capital
of 11 dynasties periodically from the 11th century BC to the
early 10th century AD.
Located between rivers and mountains in the center of the
fertile Guanzhong Plain in
Shaanxi province, Xi'an--the
provincial capital--is the natural place to nurture the
nation's civilization. Back in the Neolithic Age, about
6,000 years ago, as excavations show, a matriarchal clan was
formed at Banpo village in the region.
Thousands of years later, the Zhou kings established their
capital in settlements only a few miles from the present-day
city. In 331 BC, Qin Shi Huang, the first emperor of unified
China, set about expanding the settlement of Xianyang, about
15 miles northwest of the city. This town, established under
earlier Qin rulers as the capital, became heavily populated,
so that in 313 BC, Emperor Qin decided to move his court to
the south bank of the Wei River. A vast palace was begun.
However, the work was never completed in his lifetime, and
some years later when the Qin fell to the Han (306 BC), this
and most of the other palaces were set ablaze and destroyed.
The conqueror, Liu Bang, first emperor of the Han Dynasty,
established his capital only a few miles north of modern day
From about 35 AD, the town went into a decline that lasted
about five and a half centuries, until, in 583 AD, the Sui
emperor, Wen Di, established his capital southeast of
Changan. The area flourished and developed so quickly under
the Tang Dynasty that in time it became the most prominent
city in Asia, with a population of about a million people
living in a vast, well-planned area protected by large walls
For over a millennium from the Second Century BC, China's
silk was transported from Xi'an to central Asia and Europe.
Although damaged by several wars, Xi'an, covering 880 square
miles and with a population of 3,915,000 still contains a
host of historical sites.
Shaanxi Province Museum (Forest of Stele)
The Shaanxi Provincial Museum is an expansion of the Forest
of Stele, located on the site of the ancestral temple of the
Tang Dynasty. The garden-style museum of ancient
architecture is kept to protect the cultural relics and for
the display and study of antiquities. The Forest of Stele
was first founded in 1090, during the Song Dynasty. It is
the oldest and richest collection of stele in China. The
steles are in such large quantity that they are likened to a
forest, hence the name. The forest consists of six large
exhibition halls, seven corridors and a stele pavilion.
There are more than 1,000 stele from eight dynasties from
the Han down to the Qing. They are of great value to
historians and for the study of calligraphic development.