Xi’an City Wall

Xi'an City Wall

Xi'an City Wall

Xi'an City Wall, also known as the Fortifications of Xi'an, is the most complete city wall that has survived in China, as well being one of the largest ancient military defensive systems in the world.

Xi'an City Wall Facts

Location: Around the city center of Xi’an
How Long is the Xi'an City Wall: 13.7 kilometers (8.5 miles)
When Was the Xi'an City Wall Built: 1370
Four Main Gates: East Gate (Changle Gate), West Gate (Anding Gate), South Gate (Yongning Gate), North Gate (Anyuan Gate)
Ways of Visit: Walking, Sightseeing Battery Car, Riding a Bike

Why Was the Xi'an City Wall Built

When Zhu Yuanzhang, the first Emperor of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), captured Huizhou, a hermit named Zhu Sheng admonished him that he should 'built high walls, store abundant food supplies and take time to be an Emperor,' so that he could fortify the city and unify the other states. After the establishment of the Ming dynasty, Zhu Yuanzhang followed his advice and began to enlarge the wall built initially during the old Tang Dynasty (618 - 907), forming today's scale of Xi'an City Wall.

Scale of the Ancient City Wall Xi'an

After the extension, the wall now stands 12 meters (40 feet) tall, 12-14 meters (40-46 feet) wide at the top and 15-18 meters (50-60 feet) thick at the bottom. It covers 13.7 kilometers (8.5 miles) in length with a deep moat surrounding it. Every 120 meters, there is a rampart which extends out from the main wall. All together, there are 98 ramparts, which were built to defend against the enemy climbing up. Each rampart has a sentry building, in which the soldiers could protect the entire wall without exposing themselves to the enemy. Besides, the distance between every two ramparts is just within the range of an arrow shot from either side, so that they could shoot the enemy, who wanted to attack the city, from the side. On the outer side of the wall, there are 5,948 crenellations, namely battlements. The soldiers can outlook and shoot at the enemy. On the inner side, parapets were built to protect the soldiers from falling off.

Xi'an City Wall
Moat around the Wall
Bricks of the City Wall
Xi'an City Wall Map

4 Main City Gates

Since the ancient weapons did not have the power to break through a wall and the only way for an enemy to enter the city was by attacking the gate of the city wall. This is why complicated gate structures were built within the wall. The wall includes four gates and they are respectively named as Changle (meaning eternal joy) in the east, Anding (harmony peace) in the west, Yongning (eternal peace) in the south and Anyuan (forever harmony) in the north.

The south gate, Yongning, is the most beautifully decorated one. It is very near to the Bell Tower, center of the city. Important greeting ceremonies organized by the Provincial Government are usually held in the south gate square. The South Gate Square is restored and formally open to public on September 6, 2014. Covering an area of around 7.9 acres (32,000 square meters), the U shaped square is divided into three parts, main royal road, secondary royal road and celebration square. Below the square is a large underground parking lot. Meanwhile, two museums inside the barbican and the archery tower of the South Gate are also open to the public. Tourists who visit the wall can enjoy a free visit to these two museums.

Changle Gate
Changle Gate
Yongning Gate
Yongning Gate

Each city gate has three gate towers: Zhenglou, Jianlou and Zhalou. The most outside is Zhalou, which stands away and is opposite to Zhenglou. It was used to raise and lower the suspension bridge. Jianlou with small windows in the front and flanks was used as a defensive outpost. Zhenglou, in the inner, is the main entrance to the city. The wall connects Jianlou and Zhenglou Towers. The area between them was called 'Wong Cheng', in which the soldiers stationed. From Wong Cheng, there are sloped horse passages leading to the top of the wall.

How Was the Wall Built?

Initially, the wall was built with layers of dirt, with the base layer including also lime and glutinous rice extract. Throughout the time the wall has been restored three times. In 1568, Zhang Zhi (the government officer of that period) was in charge to rebuild the wall with bricks. In 1781, another officer, Bi Yuan, refitted the wall and the gate towers. More recently (since 1983) the Shaanxi Provincial Government restored the wall again. The circular City Wall Park has been built along the high wall and the deep moat. The thriving trees and flowers decorate the classical Chinese architecture of the wall, adding additional beauty to the city of Xi'an.

Repairing the City Wall
Repairing the City Wall
Bricks of the City Wall
Bricks of the City Wall

Travel Tips for Visiting the Wall

Encircling the rectangled city center of Xi'an, it has totally 18 city gates, but they are not all open for visitors. Visitors can ascend the Wall from the South Gate, Small South Gate, East Gate, West Gate, North Gate, Heping Gate, Wenchang Gate and Hanguang Gate. You can choose the nearest city gate according to your location. No matter which gate you choose, you can tour the whole circle of the wall if you like. Here is a hiking itinerary around the wall starting from the South Gate for your reference.

The South Gate Xi'an (Yongning Gate) is the most time-honored and magnificent one among all the city gates. There is bicycles for rental up to the South Gate. So it is popular for visitors to ascend here. If you stay near the Bell Tower, it is recommended that you take a 10 minutes' walk along the South Street to get to the Xi'an City Wall South Gate.

 Activities on the City Wall: Xi'an City Wall Marathon, Kite Festival, Lantern Fair ...

Lanterns on the City Wall
Lanterns on the City Wall

How to Get to the Xi'an City Wall

 Getting to four main gates:

  To the South Gate: Take metro line 2 to Yongningmen Station and walk northward; take bus no. 11, 204, 311, 184 and get off at Nanmenwai (Outside South Gate).
  To the East Gate: Take metro line 6 to Changlemen, take Exit A1 and walk westward; Take bus no. 29, 218, 235, 22, 33, 139, 263, 45, 188, 527 and get off at Dongmenwai (Outside East Gate) Station.
  To the North Gate: Take metro line 2 to Anyuanmen Station; Take bus no. 6, 104, 206, 138, 228, 266, 229, 608 and get off at Beimenwai (Outside North Gate) Station.
  To the West Gate: Take metro line 6 to Andingmen and walk eastward; Take bus no. 10, 15, 18, 21, 43, 107, 205, 206, 224, 701, 900 to Ximenwai (Outside West Gate); take bus no. 4, 15, 23, 31, 43, 45, 201, 221, 222, 252, 300, 407, 611, 612, 622 to Ximenli (Inside West Gate).
  Xi'an Bus / Metro Search

 Xi'an City Wall Bike Ride:

Ride a Bike on the Wall
Ride a Bike on the Wall

Try biking on the Wall, you will have an enjoyable and interesting experience. To cycle round the wall for a whole circle takes 2 hours at a medium speed. You can rent a bike at the gates.

Rental Fee:
The deposit is CNY 100 for one bicycle. A single bicycle costs CNY 45 for 3 hours. The tandem bicycle costs CNY 90 for 3 hours.

1. You will have to pay an extra charge if you cycle more than 3 hours. An extra 10 minutes costs CNY 5 for a single bicycle, and CNY 10 for a tandem bicycle.
2. Bicycles should be returned at the two service centers on the west and east of South Gate before 22:00 or before 20:00 at the other three gates.
3. Children under 12 and the elderly over 65 are not allowed to ride bikes on the wall.

 Sightseeing battery car:
The sightseeing battery car costs CNY 80 for a circle ride and CNY 20 between two stops. 
Route: South Gate – East Gate – North Gate – West Gate

 Service centers and business hours for bicycle rental and sightseeing battery car:
400 meters (437 yards) east and west of the South Gate: 8:00 - 22:00
Hanguang Gate: 8:00 - 20:00
East Gate, West Gate & North Gate: 8:15 - 20:00
Battery Car on the Wall
Battery Car on the City Wall
Cycling on Xi'an City Wall
Cycling on the City Wall

 Xi'an Sightseeing Bus City Wall Line

City Wall Sightseeing Bus links the famous scenic area of Xi'an and the 18 gates of the city wall.
 Route: Yongning Gate – Bell Tower – Wenchang Gate – Hanguang Gate – Anding Gate – Yuxiang Gate – Guangren Temple – Anyuan Temple – Northeast Corner of City Wall – Changle Gate – Southeast Corner of City Wall – Wenchang Gate Sightseeing Point
 Fare: CNY 49.9 (the entrance ticket of City Wall not included)
 Departure Time: 9:00; 10:00; 11:00; 12:00; 13:00; 14:30; 15:30; 16:30; 17:30; 18:30


Xi'an City Wall Fee & Opening Hours 

Entrance Fee CNY 54 for adults.
free for children under 1.2 meters.
A combo ticket for Xi'an City Wall and Stele Forest Museum is CNY100.
Opening Hours South Gate, Zhongshan Gate & Jianguo Gate: 8:00 - 22:00
East/North/West Gate, Hanguang Gate, Wenchang Gate: 8:00 - 20:00
Performances at
the South Gate
Grand Welcoming Ceremony: 9:00 - 9:20 from Tuesday - Sunday
Chang’an Impression--Tang Dynasty Grand Welcoming Ceremony: 
Sep. 1 - Sep. 30 & Oct. 6 - Oct. 31: 20:00 - 21:10 
Oct. 1 - Oct. 5: 19:30 - 21:40; 21:00 - 22:10
 Video of the Warrior Formation Performance
Ticket Price of Performances Grand Welcoming Ceremony: CNY80
Free for children under 1.2 meters (3.9 feet)
Chang’an Impression - Tang Dynasty Grand Welcoming Ceremony: CNY280; CNY380; CNY 880
Free for children under 1.2 meters (3.9 feet) if not taking a seat
Time for a Visit
3.5 hours for a whole circle

 Nearby Attractions:
 City Wall Park: The park surrounding the wall for a whole circle is the best place for the locals to spend their spare time and for foreigners to feel the true life and folkway in this city.
 Stele Forest: Located inside the Wenchang Gate to the east of the South Gate, it collects steles of different dynasties which offer a feast for Chinese history and calligraphy fans.
 Tang Hanguang Entrance Remains Museum: Located inside the Hanguang Gate to the west of the South Gate, it keeps the precious relics of the City Wall of the Tang Dynasty.
 Ancient Cultural Street of Shuyuanmen: Get inside the South Gate and turn eastward, you'll find this street full of antiques and souvenirs.
 Defu Lane: A quiet path to the west inside the South Gate leads you to the leisure lane with many cafes and bars.

Top 10 Things to Do in Xi'an

- Last updated on Jun. 06, 2024 by Gabby Li -
Questions & Answers on Xi'an City Wall
Asked by Clive from AUSTRALIA | Sep. 09, 2023 02:19Reply
Xi’an City Wall Ticket
Can I turn up and purchase a ticket at a ticket office? Everything online is showing tours with a guide for $100’s I don’t need that. Just a ticket to go onto the wall.
Answers (1)
Answered by John | Sep. 11, 2023 02:25

Yes, you can buy a ticket on the spot. However, if you travel during holidays, buying a ticket in advance is necessary because they are in great demand and it's very possible they will be sold out. You can reserve one on its official wechat account.
Asked by Rev.Vimutti from SRI LANKA | Feb. 21, 2020 18:07Reply
SIM to be used in Xi'an and Beijing
May I know whether it is possible to get a SIM/DATA card at the Xi'an international airport. I will want to use it while in Beijing too.?
I will be in China for 15 days
Answers (1)
Answered by Susan from AUSTRALIA | Feb. 23, 2020 16:47

As I know, you can find SIM Card in T3. For the exact location, you can consult the airport staff after landing. You can use it in Beijing too. Don't worry.
Asked by Syeda Fabiha Islam from BANGLADESH | Jan. 10, 2020 00:31Reply
How to go to Xi'an Muslim quarter from city wall? Which gate should i choose?
Answers (1)
Answered by Gary from AUSTRALIA | Jan. 12, 2020 19:06

You can go out from South Gate, and take metro line 2 from Yongningmen station to Bell Tower station, and walk west around 400m to the destination.
Asked by Ruth from UNITED STATES | Dec. 27, 2019 13:22Reply
Xi'an City wall departures
Upon entering the City Wall, we pay an entrance fee, right? If we leave to go to the City Wall Park, do we have to pay the entrance fee again?
Answers (1)
Answered by Yolanda from SINGAPORE | Dec. 29, 2019 23:32

Yes, you need to pay again.
Asked by C. Ray Wiseman from UNITED STATES | Nov. 28, 2019 02:09Reply
Xi'an Wall access for long staying guest
Is there a method and location to purchase a monthly or weekly pass to the Xi'an city wall? Would it be cheaper than paying 54 RMB each day?
Answers (1)
Answered by Molly from THAILAND | Dec. 01, 2019 22:48

Sorry, there is no weekly or monthly ticket.
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