The archaeological site with the terracotta warriors is located outside Lintong, a town close to Xi’an.
The quickest and easiest way to get to the terracotta warriors, if you are not on a guided tour, is to take a taxi. The ride will take roughly twenty minutes from the Angsana and costs between RMB30 and RMB50, depending on whether or not you are in the mood to negotiate.
A ticket to enter the archaeological site will set you back RMB150, which is more or less EUR20. Cash payment only, credit cards are not accepted.
As you enter the site, you will be approached by one of the many official guides offering their services. A guide will also cost you RMB150 for a tour of two hours. Once again, payment for the site guide is cash only. On the one hand, a guide is probably not a bad idea, given that English descriptions of what you can actually see in the pits are somewhat scarce. On the other hand, you will manage even without a guide. Which also leaves you free to move around at your leisure and at your own pace.
Advice for a Visit
There are three pits at the site. Pit Two is the one they have done the least work on. All you can see here is the digging site itself with a few shattered pieces of terracotta lying about. In Pit Three the excavated figures are fully restored and reassembled, although the total number of warriors in this pit is limited to about thirty. And then finally, Pit One has the largest number of unearthed soldiers and horses. They are still working to complete the excavation and it is estimated that only about a third of the approximately 6000 figures have been unearthed so far. For the most spectacular effect, I would recommend you visit the pits in the sequence two – three – one.
So what’s the big deal?
The terracotta warriors were commissioned by Qin Shi Huang, the first emperor of China, who obviously must have been something of a megalomaniac, given that he is also the man who commissioned the construction of the Great Wall of China. Although to be fair, not that many people can say of themselves that they founded a dynasty, so I think he may be forgiven.
In any case, the terracotta warriors were part of the burial site of the emperor, their task was to guide and escort the emperor to the afterlife. They date back to 210 BCE! Originally, the warriors were painted, although obviously the paint has since faded. But to see them standing together is still an impressive sight.
Admittedly, Xi’an is rather an out of the way place to get to. And the exhibition is clearly aimed to a Chinese audience. Even so, if you have the time and the chance, I can highly recommend a visit to this UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Of course one might argue that – like the great pyramids in Giza – the terracotta warriors are, first and foremost, testimony to the ruthless vanity of a single individual. But instead of taking a cynical point of view, I think it is equally fair to say that they are impressive monuments to all of mankind, that have successfully withstood the test of time. To me, it is awe inspiring to think that these statues still stand – decades, centuries and even millennia after they were erected.