The Terracotta Army (officially named Emperor Qin's Mausoleum Site Museum) is a large collection of statues of warriors and horses located in Lintong District, 40 km northeast of Xi’an. It’s estimated to have more than 8,000 terracotta warriors, 130 chariots, 520 horses, and 150 cavalry horses.
These warriors and horses are life-sized and vivid, varying in height, uniform and hairstyle. Their quantity and quality are extraordinary, providing valuable information for in-depth study of the armed forces, economics, politics, culture, and art of the Qin Dynasty. It is undoubtedly a must-see site in Xi’an.
The site was listed by UNESCO as one of the greatest archaeological sites in the world, as well as being labeled the eighth wonder of the world. Experts at the time spent almost 40 years finishing this exquisite and huge army, as protection for Emperor Qin in the afterlife.
- Transport: 1 hour’s drive from Xi'an downtown
- Visiting time: Half a day
- Suitable for: all people
- Features: hundreds of life-size model soldiers, horses, and chariots in battle array
Exhibit Vaults Inside the Terracotta Army Museum
There are four highlights in the museum, including three pits and the Bronze Chariots and Horses Exhibition Hall. All are about 1.5 km east of the tomb of Emperor Qin. Pit 1 is the biggest and most crowded. Warriors and horses were designed and stationed as if to safeguard the tomb, facing east towards enemies.
The military organization is in accordance with ancient tactics. Every warrior differs in facial expression, clothing, hairstyle, and gestures. The position in which they are standing shows rank and level.
Vault 1 – More than 2,000 Warriors
As the largest and most impressive vault, vault 1 covers an area of 14,260 square meters, 230 meters long from east to west, 62 meters wide from north to south, and 5 meters deep. It’s assumed that vault 1 contains more than 8,000 terracotta warriors and horses, of which only 2,000 have been unearthed.
The main troop consists of warriors, infantry, horses, and chariots. At the center is the main army force, with 36 columns of warriors. Chariots are each manned by three warriors, one driving the horse and others with weapons in hand.
4,000 infantries stood in orderly formation in the two wings, aiming to protect the main troops from enemies attacking from the wings. A three-line vanguard of 204 warriors stands at the front. Commanders of the troops are at the two ends of the vanguard, distinguished by wearing different cloth.
Vault 2 - The greatest variety of warriors
Kneeling of Terracotta Warrior
Covering an area of about 6,000 square meters, warriors in pit 2 are in complex combat formation, consisting of cavalrymen, archers, chariots, horses, infantry, general warriors, standing archers, and kneeling archers. There are over 1,300 terracotta warriors and horses, about 80 chariots, and thousands of bronze weapons. It can be divided into the following four sections.
Section 1: This section contains rows of kneeling and standing archers. 60 crossbowmen are standing on four corridors surrounding the main force in the middle. In the center, 160 kneeling or squatting crossbowmen make up the main force.
Section 2: This section features a chariot war formation. 64 war chariots form a square combat formation, divided into 8 rows. Each chariot has four horses and four warriors. One warrior drives the carriage while the others stand behind, weapons in hand.
Section 3: This section is in the center, featuring mixed forces with 264 infantries, 19 chariots, and 8 cavalrymen standing in a rectangular array in 3 rows. Each chariot has one cavalryman in front of a horse, drawing a bow and holding the bridle rein.
Section 4: This section includes 108 cavalrymen with weapons and 180 clay horses in a rectangular array in 11 rows. All stand in the three east-west passageways in strict order.
Vault 3 – A command center and the best-preserved
Vault 3, the smallest, covers only 50 square meters. It’s a command center, consisting of high-ranking officers and a war chariot.
There is one chariot, along with 4 horses and 68 warriors. The battle formation here is different from in the other two pits, with 68 warriors lining the corridor. Here there are many well-preserved painted warriors, retaining their original colors from the time of discovery.
Bronze Chariots and Horses Exhibition Hall
Bronze Chariots and Horses
There are two large-scale bronze chariots and horses here, discovered in 1980. They were encased in large wooden coffins for over two thousand years, without any corrosion. In October 1983, the exhibition hall was opened for viewing. The Bronze Chariots and Horses are the biggest ancient items of bronze-ware ever found in the world.
The two chariots are named No. 1 Bronze Chariot and No. 2 Bronze Chariot. They are half the size of real ones and decorated with geometric and cloud patterns. They were thought to be the vehicles for Emperor Qin’s inspection tours in the afterlife.
Each of the two chariots consists of over 3,000 accessories and was driven by four horses. No. 1 Bronze Chariot is placed ahead as the leading chariot, to safeguard No. 2. A big umbrella was set as a shelter. It was also equipped with bows, crossbows, arrowheads, and shields.
No. 2 Bronze Chariot is believed to have been prepared as the seat for Emperor Qin, as it’s more luxurious and elaborate. It contains separate front and back rows: the driver sits in front while Emperor Qin could sit in the back.
Popular the Terracotta Army Trips
Want to get to know the history of China? Go to Xi'an. Want to get to know about Xi'an? Not miss Terracotta Army! Please see our more popular trips to explore this ancient wonder:
We have developed some special activities in Xi'an, including discovering a mysterious place to have a close experience with a Terracotta Warrior. Contact us if you want to add these activities to your itinerary.
1. Ticket Price: (including Terracotta Army and Tomb of Emperor Qin)
High season (March to November): CNY150
Low season (December to February): CNY120
2. Opening hours:
High season (March to November): 8:30-18:00, ticketing stops at 17:00
Low season (November to March): 8:30-17:30, ticketing stops at 16:30
A. Take direct Bus No. 306 from Xi’an Railway Station (no English-speaking steward on the bus) and get off at the Terracotta Warriors (Bin Ma Yong) stop. The bus runs from 07:00 to 19:00 and it takes about an hour to get to the destination.
B. Take Bus No. 307 at South Gate of the Tang Paradise, Big Wild Goose Pagoda, or Banpo stop and get off at the Terracotta Warriors stop.
C. Book Private Xian to Terracotta Warriors Transfers.
4. Suggested visiting time: 2-4 hours
5. To avoid the crowds, you are advised to begin your trip at 08:30. It’s highly recommended not to visit in July or August, for that is summer vacation and the site will be crowded with students on holiday.
6. You are highly recommended to rent an audio guide if you visit Terracotta Army Museum by yourself, which can help you understand the history. (Rent: CNY 40 per person; deposit: CNY 100)
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