In 1974, while digging a well, some farmers came across a very special terracotta statue. Soon more objects were found that later turned out to be part of a very large army that had to protect the mausoleum of the first emperor of China. It immediately put the city of Xi’an in Shaanxi province, where the army was found, on the map. A visit to this city automatically means a trip to one of the most significant attractions in China: the Terracotta Army of Emperor Qin Shi Huangdi.
Who was this emperor and why did he have a whole army “built” to protect him? And why has his tomb still not been opened to this day? Will this be the greatest discovery of the twenty-first century? Read all about this ‘special’ emperor and your ‘possible’ visit to these Chinese soldiers and his tomb here….
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Qin Shi Huangdi, the first emperor of China
Zhao Zheng (259-210 BC) became the king of the state of Qin at the age of 13. During his reign, he waged war with 6 other states in present-day China and conquered them one by one. He proclaimed himself as the first emperor of China in 221 BC under the name Qin Shi Huangdi. The Qin dynasty had officially begun. To hold the empire together, he was not averse from taking cruel measures. Anyone who contradicted him or undermined the empire had to pay with their lives.
The emperor in search of eternal life
But the emperor himself was also terribly afraid of death. He had scientists working on a way to give him eternal life. The emperor even sent a fleet of scientists around the world to find the miracle cure for him.
When the ship with 3,000 people on board found nothing they decided to leave. To return without anything would undoubtedly have meant their death. The emperor died in 210 BC from a dose of mercury pills, after doctors told him it would make him immortal. But alas!
The construction of a mausoleum and the Terracotta Army
When Qin Shi Huangdi came to power he immediately had a mausoleum built for himself. More than 700,000 workers helped to build the tomb and make 8,000 soldiers out of terracotta. The remarkable thing about those statues is that they are all different and about between 1.60 and 1.80 meters high.
And they are also really an army with knights, crossbowmen and officers. They were all supposed to accompany the emperor after his death and protect him. Unfortunately, many broken statues have also been found in recent decades, indicating that and may have been looted over the centuries.
Emperor Qin Shi Huangdi, spiritual father of the Great Wall of China
In addition to building the Terracotta Army, Emperor Qin Shi Huangdi is also considered the father of the Great Wall of China. He ordered the construction of the more than 6,000-kilometer-long structure to protect against the nomads from the north. From 214 to 204, hard work was done to complete the wall, although most of the work on the wall did not happen until the seventeenth century AD.
In addition to building the wall, the emperor was also responsible for the development of writing, currency and the system of measurement. In short, Qin Shi Huangdi was a versatile man who meant a great deal to the development of early China.
Why has his tomb not yet been opened?
To this day, the Emperor’s tomb has not been opened. And this is for a number of specific reasons. First, his tomb was built more than 2,200 years ago, so one must proceed with caution to “dissect” it. Indeed, one suspects that his mausoleum consists only of splendor.
And secondly, historical sources describe his tomb as being guarded by crossbows. Whoever dares to open his tomb will pay with death. In 2012, the Chinese government decided that it can only be opened when the techniques are so well developed that no damage will occur when opening it. But who will dare to go in first?
Practical information for a visit to the Terracotta Army
A visit to the Terracotta Army is an absolute must when you go to the city of Xi’an in China. Preferably go as early as possible, but you will not escape the crowds and pushy Chinese. You can count on needing several hours to view the images. In any case, you now know the story of this famous emperor …
The Emperor’s Terracotta Army is located exactly where some farmers made this extraordinary discovery in 1974. The soldiers are divided into three halls, the first of which is the largest and most impressive. There is also a museum where you get a more detailed explanation of the army.
Would you like to visit the tomb of Qin Shu Huangdi?
Two kilometers west of the army is the tomb of Emperor Qin Shu Huangdi. And actually there is not that much to see either and it is more like a walk through a park. But it is still special to take a look if only because of the great treasures that would be found in that tomb. Who knows, maybe this will be the greatest archaeological discovery of the 21st century….
How to get to the Terracotta Army?
A visit to the Terracotta Army is easy to arrange yourself. At Xi’an’s train station, tourist buses leave every few minutes, with the army mausoleum being the terminus. The buses fill up pretty quickly, just to show how popular this attraction is….
Do you have any comments, ideas or tips about visiting the Terracotta Army in Xi’an in China? Then feel free to leave a message below.