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Xian
The city of Xian (population 6 million) was the first Chinese city to open up its doors to the Ancient world, not in 1980 under the "Open Door"policy but in fact during the Tang dynasty when Xian blossomed as the first stop on the Silk Road.

Over a period of more than 2000 years, Xian was the capital for eleven dynasties. Along with Rome and Constantinople, this city was a world leader in culture and trade and played a vital role in bridging the gap between east and west.

Many of the sites to visit are outside Xian and the surrounding countryside offers a treasure trove of historical and religious relics. The most famous site is the Terracotta Army, built to protect the Emperor Qin Shi Huang, whose Mausoleum lies close the warriors. Both these sights are to the east of Xian.

There are other less famous but equally fascinating places worth visiting too.The Famen Temple claims to house the Buddhas fingers and still draws crowds of practicing monks (and tourists) to marvel at the fingers and the Tang dynasty treasures which are kept here. The countryside around Xian is also attractive and there are numerous mountains, including Mount Huashan which are a great break from the city.

Aside from being a major tourist destination and historical city,today Xian is an important industrial and manufacturing center. Despite the incredible history that Xian carries, it is a modern and prosperous area. The nightlife here is pretty up to date and Xians University is considered to be one of the best in China.

As a result, the city has a large student population who contribute to the cultural life of the city, making Xian one of the most pleasant cities in China and an ideal place to break the journey between Beijing and Shanghai.