The Xian City Wall is the best preserved, oldest and largest ancient city defense system in China. It is also one of the most important landmarks of the Xian city. The original foundation of the Xian City Wall was based on the ruins of the Imperial City Wall of Chang'an City which was the capital of the Tang Dynasty. In 904 A.D, when the capital of the Tang Dynasty was moved eastward, the Governor-general Han Jian had the city renovated and turned it into an army garrison and named it 'New City'. Since then the city was used continuously by Song and Yuan Dynasties, and its features kept unchanged. The Ming Dynasty was set up in 1368 and the Ming army entered the city in 1369. Afterward the city was renamed as 'the Prefecture of Xian. Since the ancient weapons did not have the power to break through a wall and the only way for an enemy to enter the city was by attacking the gate of the city wall. This is why complicated gate structures were built within the wall. In Xian, the city wall includes four gates and they are respectively named as Changle (meaning eternal joy) in the east, Anding (harmony peace) in the west, Yongning (eternal peace) in the south and Anyuan (forever harmony) in the north. The south gate, Yongning, is the most beautifully decorated one. It is very near to the Bell Tower, center of the city. Important greeting ceremonies organized by the Provincial Government are usually held in the south gate square. Xian has utilized defensive structures for many thousands of years. Archaeologists have discovered at Xian's Banpo site that the ancient Banpo people dug a deep ditch around their residences to prevent wild animals and other tribes from entering their areas. With the development of technology the defensive works become more solid and impenetrable. Starting from the simple moats dug by their ancient ancestors, the defensive works evolved into the rammed earth walls of the Sui Dynasty, to the eventual solid stone and brick City Wall that can be seen now. Xian's ancient City Wall is one of the major sites of interest to visitors to Xian and is rarely missed. Since the wall is intact, visitors can rent a bicycle and ride around the ancient city on the top of the wall. It gives them a chance to look into the ancient city and imagine what life would have been like for its ancient inhabitants. The park surrounding the ancient City Wall is beautiful and is worth a look. At night, the City Wall is lit up and looks quite stunning.
Ancient City Wall Marathon
"The Marathon of Xi'an City Wall" is now an international sport. The course is 13.7 KM (the circumference of the Xi'an City Wall is 13.7 KM). Participants in the full marathon will conquer the city wall three times, while the 1/3 marathon will travel the Wall only once.