Xi'an Ancient City
Xian City Wall is not only a well preserved
ancient Chinese monument but was once also a complex
and well-organized system of defense for the city.
The City Wall was built by order of Zhu
Yuanzhang, the forefather of Ming Dynasty. He was admonished
by a hermit named Zhu Sheng to ¡°build high
walls, store abundant provisions, and take time in proclaiming
yourself emperor.¡± Zhu Yuangzhang accepted
his proposal and gave orders to the local governments
to build the city walls when the whole country was unified.
The current City Wall is an extension of
the old Tang Dynasty structure. It is 12 meters high,
12 to 14 meters in width across the top, 15 to 18 meters
at the bottom and 13.7 kilometers in a total length.
Due to the primitive weapons of ancient
time, passage through the gate was only way to forcefully
enter the city. The feudal rulers of every period hence
put great emphasis on its reinforcement. In Xian, the
east, west, south and north gates consist of three gate
towers. The ¡°Zhalou¡± tower
is used to lift and lower a suspension bridge and stands
away from the wall. The ¡°Jianlou¡±
tower is located in between the two others. There are
square windows for defending archers in front and on
both sides. The inner ¡°Zhenglou¡±
defense tower doubles as the main entrance to the city.
There are in total 11 horse passages located around
the city leading to the top of the wall. These have
gradually ascending steps that make it easy for chargers
to ascend and descend.
Ramparts were built every 120 meters along the length
of the wall. The distance between every two ramparts
is just within the archers range from either side. The
ramparts extends out from the main wall at the same
height. There are 98 ramparts in total and each has
a sentry building to accommodate troops.
A wide and deep moat runs around the city.
It measures 20 meters in width and 7 in depth with a
defense wall 2 meters high on the inner bank. Over the
moat at the south Gate, there is a huge suspension bridge
that limits access to the city in all but this point.
The City Walls were first built of earth.
The base layer was made of soil, quicklime, and glutinous
rice extract. This made the wall extremely firm. Later,
the wall was reinforced with brickwork. On the top of
the wall, there is a brick trough every 40 to 60 meters.
These were used for drainage and have played a very
important role in the long¨Cterm environmental protection
of the walls.
In 1997, then US President Clinton chose
Xian as the first stop of his historic trip to China.
He sang high praises after visiting the ancient city
wall and the gates. The ancient Xi'an City
Wall is a timeless display of the ability and wisdom
of the people of ancient China. It provides visitors
with an invaluable insight into Chinese history, military
developments and architecture.