My travel bucket-list: Terracotta Army, China

The Terracotta Army is one of the must-visit attractions for all travelers to China. The thrilling exhibition reveals the secrets behind the 2,000 year old army of life-size clay soldier poised for battle, that guarded the tomb of China’s first emperor, until workers digging a water well outside the city of Xi’an, in 1974 struck upon one of the greatest archeological discoveries in the world. 

Impressive is that each soldier has unique facial expressions and positioned according to rank. Even if they are gray today, patches of paint hint at once brightly colored clothes. Further excavations have revealed swords, arrow tips, and other weapons, many in pristine condition.

The soldiers are in trenchlike, underground corridors. In some of the corridors, clay horses are aligned four abreast and behind them are wooden chariots.

Believe it or not, the Terracotta Army, how was called, belonged to Qin Shi Huang, the first Emperor of China and it is a form of funerary art buried with the emperor in 210–209 B.C. with the purpose of protecting the emperor in his afterlife.

Well, Egyptians have the pyramids, the Chinese have the Terracotta Army. The funerals were pretty important that days. 

In 246 B.C, at the young age of 13, Ying Zheng took the throne. He unified China in 221 B.C. for the first time in Chinese history, took the name of Qin Shi Huang Di-the First Emperor of Qin and established Qin Dynasty (221–206 B.C.), thus starting China’s over 2000 years’ feudal society. 

During his rule, Qin standardized coins, weights, and measures; interlinked the states with canals and roads; and is credited for building the first version of the Great Wall.

According to writings of court historian Siam Qian during the following Han dynasty, Qin ordered the mausoleum’s construction shortly after taking the throne. More than 700,000 laborers worked on the project, but it was stopped in 209 B.C. amid uprisings a year after Qin’s death.

As per to date, four pits have been partially excavated. Three are filled with the terracotta soldiers, horse-drawn chariots, and weapons. The fourth pit is empty, a testament to the original unfinished construction.

Archaeologists estimate the pits may contain as many as 8,000 figures, 130 chariots, and over 600 horses, but the total may never be known.

Qin’s tomb itself remains unexcavated, though Siam Qian’s writings suggest even greater treasures.


The Terracotta Army is located at 42 kilometers (26 miles) east of Xi’an in Lintong District, China, taking about 1 hour by car from the city. 

The most convenient way to visit the Terracotta Army is to take a private tour. Your guide and driver will pick you up at your hotel and accompany you to the Terracotta Army. Will also help guarantee that you have an English speaking guide. 


Since it is an indoor attraction, which is not likely to be affected by weather, so it can be visited all year round just try to avoid the weekends and Chinese public holidays such as Labor Day Holiday (May 1–3) and National Day Holiday (October 1–7). However since is a must see attraction for travelers visiting China, it will always be crowded but seems that before 10:00 AM and lunch time tend to have fewer tourists which means you’ll be able to enjoy the museum at your own leisurely pace.

This is such a very special place to visit, so if you plan a vacation to China, be sure to add it to your itinerary!

It’s worth it! 

China Xi'an Terracotta Army1
Photo credit: Pixabay
China Xi'an Terracotta Army3
Photo credit: Pixabay

39 thoughts

  1. Thank you for sharing! Never heard of it, great information and great place! Each soldier has different facial expression, oh wow!
    Hope you will visit it very soon and hope I will as well 😊👍

  2. Terracotta Warriors are awesome to visit. Xian is also quite a hidden gem and is full of rich and diverse history being at one of the end points of the Great Silk/Spide Route to the Middle East and Europe beyond. Great post.

  3. I always wonder about the things we do…disturbing the graves and tombs of those who came before us. It seems wrong to me. I wouldn’t want anyone to disturb those I knew, or take things from them. How do we have the right to do that? Native Americans now have to be asked, and give their permission, before archeologists can do anything, which is only right. We don’t respect others, even in death. It’s grave robbing with a college degree, but grave robbing, nonetheless. It’s breaking the spell that was woven all those years ago, with reasons we know nothing about. Just seems wrong.

    1. Well I believe you’re right but I think all countries they have some rules in these cases….I think archeologists are doing a wonderful job. Without them we would not be able to learn about our ancestors…a lot of lost history….of course everything must be preserved carefully without robberies….

  4. Thank you for telling a little history about the Terra-cotta Army. We have an upcoming trip to China and Japan, and we do have plans to stay in Xi’an and visit the site. I’m definitely hoping to get some great photos, and learn more about this historical site.
    Please check out my Instagram page, and follow me there as well… Birdseyephotography1747.

Leave a Reply