Up Close and Personal with the Terracotta Army

by Adrian Landsberg /
Adrian Landsberg's picture
Mar 13, 2014 / 0 comments


“Hi there.”

Oh no, not another guide trying to sell me his services, I turned around to give another resounding no but was greeted by…

“Don't worry, I'm not a guide.”

“Really?” I said. He seemed legit, as he looked pretty young. We teamed up, so we each had a photo-taking partner for the day.

I was in Xian for another reason mostly: to walk the most 'dangerous hike in the world' on Mount Huashan, but I knew I had to squeeze in a trip to see the famous terracotta warriors. That was a good decision.

Up close and personal with the Terracotta Army, Xian, China

There are several stories about how the Terracotta Warriors were discovered, but the most common is that farmers were originally digging a well in 1974, when they found terracotta remains.

Terracotta Warriors, also known as The Terracotta Army, is a huge collection of terracotta statues displaying the armies of Qin Shi Huang. And what an amazing army it is.

Terracotta Warriors, Xian, China

There are over 7,000 statues of soldiers, horses, and even weapons that have been carefully restored, spread over 3 'pits'. These are large aerodrome style sheds that cover the whole site of over 16,000 square metres.

The Terracotta Army, Xian, China

We set off to take it all in. It's amazing, seeing all theses soldiers lined up in formation; it makes you wonder what it all looked like back in the day.

You can take photos but not with a flash (I assume that maybe bright light can damage the terracotta surfaces). But you can still get great photos, as the whole place is lit well - and there's plenty of room to get your smiling face in there, too.

Up close to the Terracotta Warriors, Xian, China

In pit number 2, you can see the soldiers and chariots closer up. It's here you will see the kneeling archers, weapons, and more complex formations of soldiers of the army.

Pit 3 is probably my favourite. It is a much deeper pit, and is still under construction. You can see large 'wave' style mounds where the earth has been taken away so archaeologists can carefully remove the remaining dirt to reveal even more artefacts underneath.

Pit 3, still in excavations - the Terracotta Army, Xian, China

Here, you also see a lot of headless statues. I was hoping it was some cool story of beheadings or something, but theorists believe it was vandals that broke into the sites many years ago.

Pit 3, still in excavations - the Terracotta Army, Xian, China

There are sloping passageways leading into this pit, and although you can't walk down into it, you can see these artefacts much better - and the detail seems to be better than pits 1 and 2. Apparently this is because this pit wasn't burnt out like the others.

After pit 3, we took a look at the museum, which shows many archers, soldiers, and chariots up close and personal. Some are even coloured, but what is really amazing is that every soldier's appearance is different in some way - from their hair styles, facial expressions, or armour.

At the Museum, terracotta warriors, Xian, China

Walking around, taking it all in, really makes you think how much work went into constructing everything. The sheer amount of soldiers, artefacts, and the detail on everything is mind boggling. I guess that's how China does things though - take a look at the Great Wall, for example - absolutely massive, over 8800 kilometres long and built over a span of approximately 276 years!

Terracotta Warriors, Xian, China

Getting there and getting in

The site is about 30km from Xian and takes about 45 minutes to an hour on the bus to get there. It is fully wheelchair accessible and very family friendly.

I came directly from the airport as I was short on time, but you can obviously come from anywhere. I paid a taxi 600 yuan which is a ridiculous price but I had no choice, but this included taking me to my hostel afterwards as well. You can catch a bus from Xian for 5yuan though (bus 306) which is a whole lot better and cheaper way to do it.

I paid around 100 yuan to enter. If you want a guide, it won't be hard to get one as they hassle you constantly until you get inside. I didn't get one and I wouldn't bother, unless you’re a real history buff, because everything is quite well signed and described.

So would I recommend going? Absolutely! It's reasonably cheap to see and a place that will stay in your memories forever.

Visiting the Terracotta Warriors, XIan, China



Adrian Landsberg is traveling the world and living a life that's exciting. 


All photos courtesy and copyright Adrian Landsberg