The famous city walls surrounding the ancient Chinese capital of Xian could be in store for a major makeover. Last week, the city publicized a plan to invest about $1.75 billion to renovate the already well-preserved walls, which have stood for centuries.
The plan is meant to better restore the walls and beautify the area. It will also feature the construction of four new museums at the walls main entrances. Each of the museums will center on four different dynasties that include the Zhou, Qin, Han and Tang. (Pictures of the proposed plan can be found here.)
Wang Tian, a representative for the projects developers, said the plan comes as the city walls have been widely recognized as a protected cultural site. At the same time, the walls are also a display of Chinas heritage and a major attraction for tourists and the local people.
Still, the plan is only in its early stages, with no firm date of when construction might begin. Nothing has been finalized and we are still working to receive the input from the people, Tian said.
Home of the Terracotta Warriors
Xian is a former imperial capital of China and has become a major tourist destination, most famous for the incredible terracotta army discovered in the mausoleum of China’s First Emperor, Qin Shi Huang. The Shaanxi History Museum, Bampo Museum, and Big Wild Goose Pagoda all draw a great number of tourists.
The existing walls that stand today were constructed during the Ming Dynasty (1368 to 1644) and built on the ruins of the Tang Dynasty (618-907) capital Changan. The walls themselves are about 12 meters tall (39 feet) and surround the inner city of Xian to a length of 13.7 kilometers (8.5 miles).
But even as the publicized plan is not meant to damage the walls, not all think the proposed renovation is a good idea. Some Chinese netizens have said on Internet forums they are impressed with the plan and wish to see it move forward. Yet others say they see little need for the renovation.
I hope I dont see the walls become too commercialized, one user worried.
This is not necessary, another user said. Cultural artifacts should look as how they originally did.
One article from the Chinese media also pointed out that Xian may be going too far to capitalize on the citys history.
Some netizens believe the citys economy has thrived off its history. So this project will eat from the rice of Xians history. But in doing so, the renovation will also destroy the plate from which this history comes from.
Thinking of visiting Xi’an? Check out insiders’ visitor guide, as well as our top picks for stunning sites off the beaten track, and swot up on your knowledge of the Terracotta Warriors before you go.