Terracotta Army in Xian in China

Terracotta Army – Watching Over China’s First Emperor

This post was last updated on August 10th, 2019 at 11:54 am

The Terracotta Army is an archaeological find of 9,099 stone soldiers that served as a “gift” for the tomb of the first Chinese Emperor Qin Shi Huangdi. The army is located near the city of Xi’an. The Terracotta Army is an interesting spectacle, but the story behind it is just as bizarre.


The Terracotta Army is one of the most important sights in China. On this page we tell you the following about this impressive highlight;


Terracotta army; a must-see

The Terracotta Army is not only the main attraction of Xi’an; it is one of the most famous archaeological finds in the world. This underground life-sized army of thousands of soldiers has been watching over the soul of China’s first emperor for more than two millennia.


TIP – From March to November you pay 150 Yuan ($21.25). From December to February you pay 120 Yuan ($17).


Lines of stone soldiers on an archeological site
It is really incredible how many soldiers they found underground


Qin Shi Huangdi

Whether Qin Shi Huang was terrified of the killed enemies who awaited him in the afterlife, or as most archaeologists believe, he expected to continue his rule after his death, the contract for the construction of the Terracotta Army was given by Qin Shi Huangdi.


He was the one who united great kingdoms in the region into one, and is seen as the first emperor of China. He was only 14 years old when he came to power (246 BC). Almost immediately he started building the Terracotta Army.


700,000 workers

According to estimates, around 700,000 forced laborers were deployed with the construction of the tomb and the stone soldiers, also known as mausoleum. Among other things, they worked on an underground burial chamber, models of palaces, buildings, and all kinds of utensils and precious stones.


When everything was finished, everything was covered and an artificial hill was constructed on top, which is now 76 meters (about 250 feet) high and can be climbed by stairs.


The most interesting thing is that the hill below of where the tomb of Qin is located has never been opened. Nobody knows where the entrance is. Qin Shi Huangdi believed that the grave became his palace for underground life, which was a continuation of his life on earth. Of the nearly one hundred burial chambers, only a few have been opened to this day. Countless treasures are still underground.



We recommend that you arrive early so that you are there before the big tour groups arrive. If that is not possible, visit the Terracotta Army around noon when other visitors leave for lunch.


There are few good English signs. There are audio guides for rent (40 Yuan, deposit 200 Yuan), but the English voice is hard to understand. A guide is, therefore, a better choice if you wish to learn more.



The Terracotta Army was discovered by a farmer on March 29, 1974. He is a local hero nowadays.


This was the greatest archaeological find of the 20th century.


Stone horses in the Terracotta Army
Some of the stone horses in the Terracotta Army


The soldiers

The stone soldiers, the Terracotta Army, are five kilometers (3.1 miles) from the tomb. There are five large pits where the soldiers are placed. Today, halls have been built above the pits for protection.


The Terracotta Army shows how powerful Emperor Qin Shi Huangdi was. It took a lot of work and a lot of professional knowledge and skill.


TIP – There are 5 pits. Pit 1 is the largest and most impressive with 2,000 stone soldiers.


All different

The stone soldiers are all different. They include the footmen, horsemen with chariots, and horses and crossbowmen which were all ready for a battle. All soldiers are between 1.60 and 1.80 meters (between 5.2 – 5.9 feet) long.


Some stand and others kneel, some wear armor and others are dressed in a uniform. The weapons they carry are real and every face is different. It is, therefore, assumed that there has been a “normal” soldier model for every stone soldier.


Terracotta Army stone soldiers with slightly different facial details
All their faces have slightly different details


How do you get there?

The Terracotta Army is one of China’s most important sights. They have made it easy to reach. Most people visit this place from Xi’an.


In Xi’an you can take one of the electric Terracotta Warriors minivans to the park at the Xi’an Train Station. This costs 8 Yuan ($1.15) and takes an hour. You can also take the local bus. This is just as expensive and takes just as long. They will drop you off at the parking lot. From there it is a 15-minute walk to the entrance. Or you can take the train for 5 Yuan ($0.70). You can also book organized tours in Xi’an.


Location of the Terracotta Army

Google Map of Emperor Qinshihuang's Mausoleum Site Museum, China

Click the image to view the location in Google Maps!


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