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Terra Cotta Warriors

The Terracotta Warriors and Horses (Terracotta Army) is a collection of terracotta sculptures depicting the armies of Qin Shi Huang, the first emperor of China. It is a form of funerary art buried with the emperor in 210–209 BCE to protect him in his afterlife. It is a sight not to be missed by any visitor to China.

Upon ascending the throne at the age of 13 (in 246 BC), Qin Shi Huang, later the first Emperor of all China, had begun to work for his mausoleum. It took 11 years to finish. It is speculated that many buried treasures and sacrificial objects had accompanied the emperor in his afterlife. A group of peasants uncovered some pottery while digging for a well near the royal tomb in 1974. It caught the attention of archeologists immediately. They came to Xian in droves to study and to extend the digs. They had established beyond doubt that these artifacts were associated with the Qin Dynasty (211-206 BC).

Terracotta Warriors and Horses Facts

Terra Cotta Warriors

They call it the eighth wonder of the world, and they're right. Discovered in 1974, Terracotta Warriors and Horses is one of the greatest archeological finds in 20th century, and it definitely should be on your bucket list.

Type: World Heritage Site, Historical Site, Specialty Museum

Best Seasons: All Seasons

Recommended Visiting Time: 3~5 hours

Opening Hours: March 16th – November 15th: 8:30 – 18:00 / November 16th – March 15th: 8:30 – 17:30

Ticket: ¥120

Address: Qinling North Road, Lintong District, Xi'an 710600, China

The Terra-Cotta Warriors and Horses is famed as the “Eighth Wonder of the World” which is the best highlight during your Xian tour. It was a funerary project of China first imperial King-Qin Shi Huang whose purpose was to protect his afterlife. Qin Shi Huang commanded craftsmen to start to build his mausoleum in 246 BC soon after Empero r Qin ascended the throne (then aged 13) according to historian Sima Qian (145–90 BC). And the Terra-Cotta Warrior was a part of the mausoleums project.

Discovery of Terracotta Warriors and Horses

The Terracotta Army was constructed to accompany the tomb of China's First Emperor as an afterlife guard. There are thousands of detailed life-size terracotta soldier models represent the guard troops of the first emperor — Qin Shihuang. They were molded in parts, fired, then assembled and painted.

Terracotta Warriors and Horses

The Terracotta Army Museum in Xi'an is a must-see. It is considered one of the greatest archaeological sites in the world, and one of the greatest discoveries of the 20th century. Find out all about the Terracotta Army: facts, how and why they were made, museum location, tours...

Terracotta Warriors and Horses Location and Transportation

The Terracotta Warriors is situated at Qinling North Road, Litong District, Xian City, Shaanxi Province (陕西省), Northwest China which neighbors with many inland provinces including Inner Mongolia in the north, Shanxi and Henan Provinces in the east, Chongqing, Sichuan and Hubei Province in the south, Gansu and Ningxia in the west. Chinese address is: 西安市临潼区秦陵北路秦始皇兵马俑博物馆. It is about 40km from Xian downtown, about 66km from Xian Xianyang International Airport, about 66km from Xian Xianyang International Airport, about 48km from Xian North Railway Station.

To visit the Terracotta Warriors, you need to get to Xian by flight or train first. (Get to Terracotta Warriors from Beijing | Get to Terracotta Warriors from Shanghai) After arriving at Xian, you can take taxi or tourist bus to get to the Terracotta Warriors.

Terracotta Warriors and Horses Location Map

What to See in Terracotta Warriors and Horses?

The entry ticket is for Emperor Qinshihuang’s Mausoleum Site Museum, and the museum contains Qin Terracotta Warriors and Horses Museum and Mausoleum of the First Qin Emperor. Normally, it’s recommended to visit Terracotta Army first, and if you have extra time, you can take the free sightseeing bus (about 2.2km) to the Mausoleum.

As the highlight of the whole travel, Qin Terracotta Warriors and Horses Museum contains four parts, Pit 1, Pit 2, Pit 3 and the Exhibition Hall. To avoid detour, most visitors choose the following visiting route: Pit 1 – Pit 3 – Pit 2 – Exhibition Hall.

Pit 1
is the largest and most impressive - the size of an airplane hangar. It is believed to contain over 6,000 terracotta figures of soldiers and horses, but less than 2,000 are on display. All the most impressive Terracotta Army pictures were taken in Pit 1.

All soldiers and horses face east in a rectangular array, each one either armed long spear, dragger or halberd. The vanguard appears to be three rows of infantry who stand at the easternmost end of the army. Close behind is the main force of armored soldiers holding weapons, accompanied by 38 horse-driven chariots.

On the southern, northern, and western side there stand one row of figures serving as the army's defense wing. Standing in front of such a grand ancient army array, one would feel the ground shake to the footsteps of the advancing soldiers.

Tourist Map of Terracotta Warriors and Horses

Every figure differs in facial features and expression, clothing, hairstyle, and gestures, providing abundant and detailed artifacts for the study of the military, cultural, and economic history of that period.

Pit 1, Largest One of All the Three

This vault opened to visitors in 1979. It measures about 210 meters long and 62 meters wide and the bottom of the pit varies from 4.5 meters to 6.5 meters below ground level. Ten earthen walls were built at intervals of 2.5 meters, forming 9 circling corridors.

Pit 2
Though smaller than Pit 1, Pit 2 is called the essence of the three pits for it has more complex battle array and more kinds of warriors. The discovery of the Pit 2 revealed the mystery of ancient battle array. Discovered in 1976, Pit 2 houses over 1,300 terracotta warrior and horses, and covers an area of 6000m2 and is made of four units.

The first unit is in the eastern part, composed by kneeling and standing crossbowmen. The second unit is the chariot array in the southern part. The third unit is the central array, composed by chariot, infantry and cavalry. And the fourth unit is the cavalry array in the northern part. Organic combination of the four units forms an unassailable army array, highly efficient in attack and defense.

Pit 2, Warriors and horses in vault two form a rigorous battle array.

Pit 3
Only 520m2 large, 17.6m from east to west and 21.4m from south to north, Pit 3 is the smallest one. It has 72 terracotta warriors and horses in total. According to the arrangement in the pit, archaeologists believe that Pit 3 is the command center of Pit 1 and Pit 2. Also, Pit 3 is the only pit surviving fire attack in history, thus, the terracotta warriors reserved more colors when they were unearthed.

The Exhibition of Bronze Chariots

The two bronze carriages displayed in the hall were discovered 20 meters from the west side of the Tomb of Qin Shihuang in December 1980, and were elaborately restored before exhibition.

The carriages have about 3,400 parts each and were driven by four horses. The second one is 3.17meters long and 1.06 meters high. The bronze horses vary from 65 cm to 67 cm high and 120 cm long. Each weighs 1,234 kg in total.

Bronze Chariot and Horses of over 2,000 Years

They were mainly made of bronze, but there were 1,720 pieces of golden and silver ornaments, weighting 7 kg, on each carriage. The carriages were so well-made, and so vivid, that they boast being the best-preserved and having the highest rank among the earliest known bronze relics in China. These chariots are the biggest pieces of ancient bronzeware ever found in the world.

Relic of Terracotta Warriors and Horses

Different Faces of Terracotta Warriors

Different Facial Expressions and Postures

It’s said that no two terracotta warriors are alike. Facial expression, hairstyle, mustache style, costume, and hand gestures are various from each other. Qin terracotta warriors were made using a realistic style. So, after the unification of China, soldiers in Qin Army were from different areas and technics; besides, craftsmen were varied with different life experiences and skills, thus, no two terracotta warriors are the same.

Colorful Terracotta Warriors

Colorful Terracotta Warriors

Since most of the terracotta warriors look white and grey today, it’s hard to imagine that they were painted with different colors in the past. The original terracotta warriors were painted with skin color on the face and hand, and their costumes were also painted with various vivid colors. However, when they were unearthed, the terracotta warriors were oxidized and all colors just turned into white-grey in a few minutes. The good news is that after a decade’s efforts, with the help of German scientists, the color of the terracotta can be reserved now.

Bronze Swords and Arrows

Life-sized Terracotta Warriors

The average height of terracotta warriors is about 180cm; however, the average height of Qin people is about 170cm. Why is the difference? According to the archaeologist, after Emperor Qinshihuang unified China, it was easy to choose tall and strong soldiers from all over the country. On the one hand, Qin was famous for its strong military force; of course, the army would recruit taller and stronger ones as its warriors. On the other hand, Emperor Qinshihaung craved greatness and success, and he preferred more magnificent and delicate works.

Bronze Swords and Arrows

Bronze Weapons

Tens of thousands of bronze weapons were unearthed with the discovery of the Terracotta Warriors and Horses. The bronze weapons were all actual combat weapons in Qin Dynasty. After being buried in the ground for over 2,000 years, no corrosion had happened to the weapons. The craftsmen at that time had conducted chemical treatment to the bronze weapons, thus forming a chromium oxidation layer to keep the weapon from corrosion. You will be surprised when knowing that similar technology was invented by the US in the 50s of the 20th century.

Terracotta Army's Dressing

The clothing of the terracotta figures is different. You can tell the rank and arm of military service of each figure from its dressing. Let us take some figures as examples:

The general wears two layers of robes beneath an armored tunic that protects his chest, back, and shoulders. He wears square-toed shoes, which are lightweight and curve upwards at the front. Only one general was found in Pit 1 and two in Pit 2.

A cavalryman

Armored warriors wear robes covered by turtleneck, heavily armored capes designed to protect their chests, backs, and shoulders.

Cavalrymen wear pillbox hats, neck scarves, and light body armor to the front and back. Their shoes are soft and round at the toes so as not to injure their mounts.

Chariot drivers have extra protection for their outstretched arms and hands that need to control the horses'reigns. They wear helmets to protect the back of their necks.

Did Terracotta Warriors Hold Weapons?

Yes. Many of the figures originally held real weapons of the time, such as bronze swords, longbows, arrows, spears, dagger-axes, and other long-shafted weapons. The weapons were treated to make them resistant to rust and corrosion, so that, even after being buried for over 2,000 years, they are still sharp.

How to Book Terracotta Army Tickets?

The Terracotta Army Museum has carried out real-name ticketing to control tourist traffic. People can book a ticket through its offical website.

According to the epidemic prevention and control requirements, the maximum number of visitors to the Terracotta Army each day is no more than 8,000.

Tickets are in high demand. If you want to visit it, booking in advance is recommended.

We have developed some beyond ordinary activities in Xi'an, including to discover a mysterious place to have a close experience with a Terracotta Warrior. Contact us if you want to add these activities to your itinerary.

How to Plan a Xi'an Terracotta Warriors Tour

Xian has a lot of places to visit. Terracotta Warriors and Horses buried for more than 2000 years is definitely a must-see. After that, take a stroll or rent a bike on the Ancient City Wall, the largest and best-preserved ancient city wall in China, to enjoy panoramic views of modern Xi’an. Then try some local snacks at the bustling and lively Muslim Quarter. On the next day, you can go to visit Da Cien Temple and Giant Wild Goose Pagoda to feel the Buddhist culture, then get a deeper understanding of the past of this city in Shaanxi History Museum. If you are interested in mountain climbing, don’t miss the challenging Mount Huashan which is famous for lofty peaks and steep paths. If you have other ideas or questions about a Xian tour, please feel free to contact us. We are also specialized in customized tours according to your own requirements, interests, travelling budgets, etc.

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