Xi’an(1995-2005)/Tourist’s perspective: travelling in between historical sites

The main focus of urban renewal of Xi’an since the second masterplan released in 1980 has been shifted to tourism. Among the second(1980-2000), the third(1995-2010) and the fourth(2004-2020)masterplan, a series of strategies of historical sites preservation dominated the shaping of the city.

The government decided to preserve all relic buildings, wall and gates of the great historical sites including Tang Chang’an area(Tang Dynasty), Han Chang’an(Han Dynasty), Xianyang(Qin Dynasty) and Fenghao(Zhou Dynasty)in order to promote its reputation as the world’s famous ancient capital city. Avoiding damages of the historical site, new towns for local residents were only built next to the great historical sites.

Map of four main great historical sites. 西安市地方志编纂委员会. “西安市志”. 第三卷, 经济(上). Di 1 Ban.; 第1版. ed. 陝西地方志丛书. 西安市: 西安出版社, 2003.
Tourist districts map. 黃奇松. “千年帝都 : 西安之旅”. 香港: 雅苑出版社, 1995


Because of the locations of the great historical sites where some were surrounded by built-up areas, such as Ming city wall, Tang city wall, and mostly located in the outlying regions of the city, for example, the site of mausoleum of the first Qin emperor, Lao-niu po, etc., this shaped spatial layout of Xi’an as well as the pathways of tourists into ‘1 pole and 4 axes’ where Tang Chang’an area is the centre. As for most of the great historical sites, they spread around in different directions. Therefore, when we were travelling in between these great historical sites, I felt that the layout of the city which shaped the pathway of us into single and radiant form become a problem. Most of the popular tourist attractions located far away from the city centre like the Terracotta Army Museum(35km away), Huashan Mountain(125km away). Therefore, usually it took an entire day to just one of the historical sites and we have to travel back to the city centre by the exact same path. Moreover, there is a lack of tourist nodes in between the long way of the great site and the city centre. This easily makes us lack interest and feel dull during the journey. To solve this problem, I think the government might also start to develop a round transportation path connecting the great historical sites in the outlying regions.   

photo taken in between Wei He River and the Ming City in 1995. 黃奇松. “千年帝都 : 西安之旅”. 香港: 雅苑出版社, 1995.



  1. Lv, Lin, and Lv, Ren Yi. “Research on Interaction of Xi’an Urban Development with Great Heritage Sites Protection.” Applied Mechanics and Materials 357-360 (2013): 1928-934.
  2. 西安市地方志编纂委员会. 西安市志. 第三卷, 经济(上). Di 1 Ban.; 第1版. ed. 陝西地方志丛书. 西安市: 西安出版社, 2003.
  3. 黃奇松. “千年帝都 : 西安之旅”. 香港: 雅苑出版社, 1995.
  4. 馬曉龍,趙榮and楊新軍。 區域旅遊系統空間結構:要素分析及其優化——以西安地區為例,2004年。

2 Comments on “Xi’an(1995-2005)/Tourist’s perspective: travelling in between historical sites

  1. Xi’an’s master plan to preserve the buildings and historical sites is, like many other cities, a great opportunity to create a unique layout of a city structure to shape the city and further enhance it to provide a means for people to recognize those historical buildings. The government’s plan to develop a round transportation path to connect the main part of the city to the historical site is interesting, and would be very nice to look into.

  2. This series of posts are more akin to personal reflections. Taking an ethnographic approach is risky, as it entails almost complete subjectivity (in terms of feelings, experiences etc). Hence this post is probably the most successful as it draws not only upon the observations, but also attempts to tie it back to larger planning issues that are backed up by plans and images. One suggestion is to match your experience with the planning ambitions closer, and to illustrate these through more historical documentation for the other posts. What were the aims, and how did they succeed or fail?

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