Xi'an has one of the most extensive and best-preserved defensive walls in the world. This colossal structure was started under the Ming Dynasty in 1370, a few years before the Drum and Bell Towers. The wall comprises 98 ramparts, each with its own sentry house, as well as 18 gateways, of which the most impressive is the South Gate.
To get an idea of the Xi'an City Wall’s extraordinary thickness, you have to climb up onto the wide terrace that surmounts it to take in the views on either side. It’s possible to walk the entire 8.5-mile (14-kilometer) length on foot or hop on a bicycle to speed up the circuit.
Just about every Xi'an tour includes a stop at the wall, along with other Xi'an attractions, such as the Terracotta Warriors, Big Wild Goose Pagoda, Shaanxi History Museum, and Muslim Quarter, depending on the option chosen.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The Xi'an City Wall is a must-visit for all active travelers, photographers, and first-time visitors.
- Wear comfortable shoes suitable for walking on uneven surfaces, especially if you plan to circumnavigate the walls on foot or by bike.
- Buy a single-admission ticket to the wall or save with a combo ticket to the Forest of Stone Steles Museum.
- Getting to the top of the wall involves climbing stairs and is not wheelchair accessible.
How to Get There
The Xi'an City Wall surrounds the rectangular city center. It’s possible to climb the walls from one of eight different gate towers, though many visitors choose the South Gate near the Bell Tower. To get there, take the Xi'an Metro (Line 2) to Yongningmen Station.
When to Get There
The wall is open daily throughout the year, but hours vary from gate to gate. The best weather for enjoying the wall is in spring (March to May) or fall (September to October). During the summer, plan to arrive early to take in the views before it gets too hot.
Xi'an City Wall by the Numbers
The Xi'an City Wall was built during the Tang Dynasty to defend the ancient capital against foreign invaders. A deep moat surrounds the structure, which at its base measures 50 to 60 feet (15 to 18 meters) thick. It stands 40 feet (12 meters) tall, and the 98 ramparts each had its own sentry building, allowing soldiers to protect the entire length of the wall without having to expose themselves.