Ancient City Wall
The first landmark visitors will encounter in Xi'an is the ancient city wall, which stretches round the old city. The northern side runs parallel to the railway. Xi'an was originally a walled city, and even today the wall is considered a landmark dividing the city into the inner part and the outer part. The city wall is massive - tall, long and thick. The South Gate and North Gate are the two main entrances to the inner city. The city itself is neatly arranged along the city wall.
The gates of the city wall were the only way to go into and out of town. Therefore, these gates were important strategic points, which the feudal rulers racked their brains to try to defend. In Xi'an's case, the north, south, east and west gates, each consist of three towers: the gate tower, which holds the drawbridge, the narrow tower and the main tower. The gate tower stands proud of the wall. It is used to lift and lower the drawbridge. The narrow tower is in the middle. Its inner walls have square windows to shoot arrows from. The main tower is the innermost one, ande forms the entrance to the city.
Zhuque (Red Sparrow) Gate: Before the Zhuque Gate, the main entrance of the Tang Forbidden City is the famous Zhuque Avenue, the Avenue des Champs Elysees of the ancient Xi'an, where the emperors of Shui and Tang often held various parades and ceremonies here thousands of years ago. The remains of the Gate were rediscovered in 1985 when the city wall of Ming Dynasty was opened. The depict of the gate in the literature works of Shui and Tang were testified by the unearthed site. As described, the gate was truly imposing and built by huge block of marbles and engraved with plenty of imaginative and pretty patterns. The new gate we see today was actually built in 1986 precisely according to its original look.
Hanguang Gate: The Hanguang Gate is in the west wing of the southern face of the imperial city. At the end of Tang where Han Jianshuo built the new city, the middle and west entries were closed down and only the east entry was left untouched. When the North Song Dynasty came a couple of centuries later, the east entry was also blocked out. In 1984 the ancient city wall was restored, and the Hanguang Gate relics was rediscovered whose doors, pillars and foundation were made of granitic rocks. Now the restoration of the whole site is still under process and will soon open to tourists.
West Gate: The West Gate, originally the central gate in the west wing of the Tang Forbidden City, was preserved after the construction of the new Forbidden City by Han Jianshuo at the end of Tang Dynasty. It was moved southward and renamed Anding (safe and stable) when the city wall was expanded in Ming Dynasty.
Wenchang (Prosperity of Learning) Gate: The Wenchang Gate in the south of the Forest of Stone Tablets Museum was rebuilt in 1986. On the top of the wall, there stands the Pavilion of Kuixin (Star of Chief), which is the only non-military establishment of the ancient city wall. Kuixin, or Star of Chief, is also called Kuisu and among the 24 constellations. In the ancient China, Kuixin was deemed to be in charge of learning and scholarship so people respectfully called him Wenqu Star or Wenchang Star. If somebody was chosen by his red brush, he would be a Zhuangyuan, or a NO. One Scholar. In the past, the Pavilion or Shrine of Kuixin were widely built and worshipped in the Temple of Confucius and schools.
Xi'an Travel Guide