Xi'an once vied with Rome and later Constantinople for the title of greatest city in the world. Over a period of 2000 years Xi'an has seen the rise and fall of numerous Chinese dynasties, and mountains and archaeological sites in the city surrounding serve as a reminder that once upon a time Xi'an stood at the very center of the Chinese world.
It was about 6000 years ago that the earliest evidence of human habitation in the Xi'an area dates back to. Then primitive Chinese tribes established villages in the region, where is it is full of lush plains. The province in which Xi'an is located is one of the oldest settled regions of China. It was homeland to Qin, who ruled from their capital of Xianyang near modern-day Xi'an, and formed the first dynasty to rule over all of eastern China. Shangxi, the province, remained the political heart of China until the 9th century. In those days, Xi'an was developed as one of the trading routes from eastern China to central Asia.
Xi'an has had its share of problems. With the migration of the imperial courts to pasture lands further east, Shangxi began to lose its fortune. Rebellions afflicted the territory from 1340 to 1368, and again from 1620 to 1644. Five million people died in the famine from 1876 to 1878, and another three million in the famines of 1915, 1921 and 1928. After that, Communists were willing to support in the province in the late 1920s. The region had wars against the Japanese and subsequent civil wars. However, the intertwining of history has given Xi'an a rich cultural base, and today remains one of China's major attractions and busiest market places full of the exotica rarely found in Chinese cities further east.
Xi'an is one of the main industrial areas in China, especially in the field of fiber and electrical fitting. Around Xi'an mostly cotton is harvested. Xi'an established the original development because of the history as a route on the Silk Road, and many merchants came and went there. Even though Xi'an has great culture and history, it was shaken by the wave of "Reform" since 1980s. Xi'an made a effort to develop each market, but it couldn't follow the high pace set by the coastal regions.
Xi'an is one of the few cities in China where old city walls are still visible. The walls reveal the chaotic history of the city. The Bell Tower is also one of those reminders that tells a tale. It is a huge building in the center of Xi'an that you enter through an underpass on the north side of the tower. A large iron bell in the tower used to mark the time each day, hence the name.
The 2000-years-old Army of Terracotta Warriors is one of the China's top historical sights. In 1974 peasants digging a well uncovered what turned out to be perhaps the major archaeological discovery of the 20th century in regard to China. Every figure differs in facial features and expressions. Xi'an has a lot of Muslim, so its culture can be seen everywhere in Xi'an. Great Mosques are among the largest mosques in China. The present buildings only date back to the middle of the 18th century, although the mosques might have been established several hundreds of years earlier. In Xi'an, much of the local food is of Islamic origin, and some common dishes include: fenerou, made by frying chopped mutton in a wok with fin-ground wheat; heletiao (dark brown sorghum or buckwheat noodles; and fried pork or beef stuffed in pita bread, sometimes with green peppers and cumin.
Xi'an is a major travel destination, it has a depressingly limited selection of true budget places. But because top end places is the category most Xi'an hotel aim for, there are dozens of choices. There are some that stand out from the crowd. Xi'an has a lot of good street food. Much of the local street food is of Islamic origin. Another dish worth trying is yangrou paomo, a soup dish that involves breaking (orgrating) a flat loaf of bread into a bowl and adding a delicious muttonstock. You will first be served a bowl and one or two pieces of flat bread, break the bread into tiny chunks, and it will absorb the broth.
As one of the best places in China to pick up souvenirs like name chops or a pair of chiming steel balls, Xi'an has Huajue Xiang. It is a narrow alley running beside the Great Mosque with many small souvenirs and antique shops--they are great for browsing. And an interesting place to visit is the City God's Temple, an old-style wooden structure that possibly dates back to the early Qing Period. It's actually no longer a temple, but now houses a small market