Xi'an City Wall, China

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Xi'an City Wall

The Xi'an City Wall is not only the most complete architecture well preserved of ancient Chinese burghs but also the largest in size and integral ancient military fort of the world.

During the transition period from spring to summer in 1997, US President Clinton took the first stop of his China journey in Xi'an and sang high praise for the ancient city wall and the gates.

Early before founding the Ming Dynasty, when Zhu Yuanzhang seized the control of Huizhou, a hermit called Zhu Shen advised the ambitious general should "build high walls, store abundant provisions and take your time in proclaiming yourself emperor".

Zhu Yuanzhang accepted his proposal and ordered local governments all over the country build city walls as much as could after he spreads his power covering the whole country.

Therefore the ancient Xi'an City Wall came into being on the original base of the capital of Tang Dynasty, in the heat of constructing under the Chief Commander Pu Ying's supervision.

The Xi'an City Wall augmented in Ming Dynasty measures 12 meters high, 12 to 14 meters wide on the top, 15 to 18 meters wide at the bottom with a total length of 13.7 kilometers. There is a watchtower in every 120 meters, outstanding with a same height leveling with the wall to help soldiers kill enemies that are climbing the wall.

Half of the length between every two ramparts is just in the effective range of defense's arrows, which can easily kill the attackers from their side. There are 98 ramparts in total and each has a sentry building to accommodate troops.

Due to the backward weapons of ancient time and therefore the gate provided the only way to enter the city, rulers of every period all put their emphasis on the gate. There are four ancient gates on east, west, south, and north of the burgh. Each has three gates belonging to the main tower, the arrow tower, and the Zhalou tower.

There are 5,984 battlements on the outer side of the wall. Crenel of the battlement can provide protection for soldiers to let off arrows and keep watch. The short wall on the inner side of the wall is the parapet, without crenels to prevent soldiers from falling down.

There is a suspense bridge in front of the gate. Raising the bridge means, the way to enter the city or go out are cut out. In the Ming Dynasty the fort had become an grand and precise defense system and now is still a better ancient fort kept intact than any other.

The ancient Xi'an fort has not only displayed the Chinese talent showing in military construction but also provided valuable information to study history, military developments and architecture structure.

The gate is of great importance to the defense systems of the city but is a weak part in strategy. In peacetime, it provides a way to relate the two areas separated by the wall and in wartime becomes the first target that both sides want to control.

Consequently, someone placed a special defense emphasis in Ming Dynasty as surrounded by a wide and deep defense channel. The defense channel measures 20 meters wide and 7 meters deep with a defense wall of 2 meters high on the inner bank. There is a roll-up gate, this is regarded as the breakthrough of defense-tech and improved the defense effectiveness greatly.

Time passes quickly and things happen every day, it is common to see something be treat differently in different times. In early years, those ancient walls regarded as the obstacle to the modernization of the city, but now it is the pride, which brings great honor to the old city as the light of honor absorbing historical accumulation.

The ancient city wall and the city gates that are not only the shining stars of history but also historic wonders attracting tourists.