A Visitor’s Guide to the Museum of the Terracotta Army
In 1974, a farmer discovered the famous terracotta army as he was digging a well. The army was buried in the 210 B.C. by the Qin Dynasty emperor. There are thousands of human sized statues that have individual features, armor and hair that matches their army rank. They are now housed in the Museum of the Terracotta Army, located in Xi’An which is part of the Shanxi province. Comparable to the pyramids in Egypt, tourists are encouraged to visit the museum when they go to China or else they’ll miss out on one of the most popular and spectacular sites in the country.
The terracotta army is thought to guard the tomb as well as the afterlife entry of Emperor Qin Shi Huang. The site is a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site and was awarded this distinction in 1987. You can reach the army from Xi’An which is the capital of Shaanxi, a Chinese province. This area on the southwest of Beijing. The city of Xi’An, by the way, is the first capital of China designated by the first emperor, Qin Shi Huang.
You should know that the proper name for the museum is the Terracotta Warriors and Horses Museum. When in Xi’An, you can reach it in about 30 minutes by automobile. The army and tomb itself is estimated to have taken almost 40 years to build and used 700,000 workers. Although the emperor died in 210 B.C., construction began in 208 and ended in 247 B.C. When you visit the museum, you will see it is broken into three distinct parts where there are three pits for continuous renovation of the terracotta army.
Admission to the museum is 90rmb from the months of March 1st to November 30th. From December 1st to February 28th admission is a bit less expensive at 65rmb. This is about $11 and $8, respectively. Upon paying admission you will view a 360 degree film about the museum, the site of discovery and its history. From there, you will get to visit the three pits. Pit 1 has had the most work done and is the largest. It features columns of warriors with chariots.
Many tourists take private or group tours to the museum. You can usually book group guided tours right from your hotel. Thanks to the Internet, you can even book your tour before leaving your country of residence. While private tours are more expensive than group tours, you get more freedom and more time to explore on your own.
To reach the museum for a private tour, take Bus 306 east of the train station at Xi’An. If you need directions, the concierge at your hotel should gladly oblige. It takes about three hours to visit the museum, with hours of operation being between 8 am and 6 pm. There is no flash photography allowed, and a word to the wise — if you want souvenir copies of the warriors get them on the way out so you don’t have to carry them on your tour.