My China Travel Adventures: Visiting The Terracotta Army – An Experience I’ll Remember Forever
One thing I knew I had to do is visit the Terracotta Army in China. Xi’an wasn’t very close, but I didn’t want to miss that lifetime opportunity. As I was getting closer to the location, the crowd was increasing. There were people from all over the world, from different countries, races and nationalities. I knew that I was in for something so mesmerizing that everyone from every corner of the world came to visit.
I knew that the Terracotta Army is an archeological discovery unlike any other in the world. It’s one of the most spectacular sights protected as a world heritage by UNESCO. And rightfully so.
HOW IT WAS DISCOVERED
I was very fascinated by how the Terracotta Army in China was actually discovered. It was a completely accidental discovery by a group of Xian farmers on a seemingly normal day. As they were digging a well in their village back in 1974, they came across a vault that led to some pottery, which led to a Terracotta soldier. No one could believe what they were about to find under.
WHAT YOU WILL SEE
There are over 8,000 warriors and around 1,000 battle horse statues spread across 4 acres (1.6 hectares). They were faithfully protecting the tomb of China’s first emperor – Qin Shi Huang for over 2,000 years. All the exhibited soldiers stand in battle formation, dressed according to their rank, with attention to the finest of details.
I was so surprised to find out that every single one of the soldiers has a different expression. I even put it to the test and got a few zoomed in photos of soldiers (a tough task when you have 10 people in front of you). And it was just as they said. Every soldier had a completely different look. It was like whoever built them was trying to give every soldier their own personality. That’s probably why it took over 40 years to construct the whole mausoleum.
The first pit is the largest one. It contains 6,000 warriors and horses all facing east. Only 2,000 were exposed, but enough to understand what this moratorium was aiming to be. The first 3 rows were archers with longbows and crossbows, followed by the spear and dagger-bearing foot soldiers. And lastly, the infantry accompanied by 35 chariots.
It may not sound impressing on paper, but believe me, when you see the endless sea of soldiers, you get a completely different experience of the world history.
Pit 2 and Pit 3 are smaller in size, but far more preserved and accessible.
Pit 2 is located 22 yards (20 meters) northeast of Pit 1. Although not as grandiose as Pit 1, personally I liked this Pit the most. The battle formations were more reminiscent of Chinese combats with clean statues displaying many relics of the past. There is a full collection of every type of Terracotta soldier, so I was able to find out and see more than Pit 1. And it’s not even half excavated, so it’s still a mystery what awaits us further in the future.
**Tourist tip: I made the mistake of touring Pit 2, then Pit 3, but it’s better to go in the following order: Pit 1 > Pit 3 > Pit 2. This is because the entrance of Pit 2 is closer to the exit of Pit 3 and will save you some time.
27 yards of walking separates Pit 1 and Pit 3. Pit 3 is the smallest, but most-preserved archeological excavation. The statues in this pit haven’t been affected by nature as the other 2, so they were in a better shape. However, they were affected by the human factor. I noticed that many of the soldiers didn’t have heads. The reason behind this is that during some time in their long 2,000-year history, these Terracotta soldiers were damaged by vandals who broke into the tomb. This was discovered when one of the villagers found half a head which was found to belong to one of the 68 soldiers of Pit 3.
At the end is the emperor’s tomb, marked by plants outside. There is an underground palace, but the entrance wasn’t allowed for tourists.
Visiting the Terracotta Army in China is one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life. It was so big and spacious that a few hours of touring weren’t enough to see the whole beauty of it.
The Terracotta Army stands and proudly protects the Emperor for centuries. When you see them, you can’t help but feel like a part of them. A part of our world’s history.
So, if you’re on your way to China, pay the soldiers a visit. It’s something that will change you for life.