Travel Information

Origin & History – Shaanxi along the Silk Road

More than 2,100 years ago, ZHANG Qian in the Han Dynasty was sent on diplomatic missions to Central Asia for two times, thus kicking off friendly exchanges between Central Asian nations and China and developing a Silk Road that runs through the West and East and connects Asia with Europe. 

Shaanxi, my hometown, is located in the starting point of the ancient Silk Road. Standing here and looking back on history, I seem to hear the camel bells echoing in mountains and see the smokes rising in the desert. 

——By XI Jinping, President of the People’s Republic of China 

The Silk Road refers to the land passage first developed by ZHANG Qian in Western Han Dynasty (202 B.C. – 8 A.D.) who made diplomatic mission to the Western Region. It starts with Chang’an (Xi’an today) and reaches Central Asia and West Asia before passing Gansu and Xinjiang, which connects countries in the region of Mediterranean. 

In 1877, Richthofen, the German geologist and geographer, called the “road that connected Central Asia and China, and India and China from 114 B.C. to 127 A.D. with silk trading as the media” as the Silk Road in his book China. Quickly, the term was accepted by the academic community and the public, and was used widely. 

Shaanxi is the major place of origin of the Chinese nation and civilization, and one of the most important cradle places of world civilization. Since more than 1 million years ago, human beings have started to live in this region, leaving behind them a few prehistoric civilizations such as homo erectus lantianensis and Banpo Remains. As the capital city of 14 dynasties such as Zhou, Qin, Han and Tang, this region has more than 50,000 relics and over 1 million antiques kept in museums. Because of the high level and large scope of antiques and relics, Shaanxi is also known as the “natural museum of history”. The world-famous Terracotta Warriors is one of the greatest archeological discoveries in the world, which has been visited by more than 200 national leaders. It is now a golden biz card that advertises ancient Chinese civilization. Famen Temple, the sole one that keeps genuine bones of Sakyamuni in the world, is revered by Buddha believers all around the world. 

This is the starting point of the Silk Road. Xi’an, the capital city of Shaanxi Province, was called Chang’an in the past and is known as one of the world’s Top 4 Ancient Capital Cities. 2,100 years ago, the ancient Silk Road started right here and transported silk, tea, china, papermaking technology, printing technology, gunpowder and other achievements of ancient Chinese civilization to Central Asia, Western Asia and Europe, making great contributions to civilization progress of mankind. The Silk Road became a major tie that promoted civilization exchanges between the West and East. In the joint application for World Historical & Cultural Heritages in the Silk Road: Starting Section and Road Network in Mount Tianshan Corridor, Shaanxi has seven sites listed as the World Cultural Heritages, namely relics of Chang’an City in the Han Dynasty, relics of Chang’an City in the Tang Dynasty, Greater Wild Goose Pagoda, Small Wild Goose Pagoda, Xingjiao Temple Pagoda, ZHANG Qian’s Tomb, and Dafo Temple in Binxian County. These cultural relics witnessed how the Silk Road came into being and became flourishing. 

In the long history, Shaanxi elements have been fused into the never-fading Silk Road, which helped instill limitless vigor and dynamics into Shaanxi by fusing civilizations. Shaanxi has become a window to the Silk Road tour in China and a center for international tour exchanges along the New Silk Road. As Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said, “For those who intend to know the future of China, they can go to Shaanxi to see the most exciting changes that are happening in Shaanxi, the starting point of the ancient Silk Road.”

We warmly welcome tourists from all parts of the world to Shaanxi to find Shaanxi elements and memory of Shaanxi people along the Silk Road. You can also explore the role and mission taken by Shaanxi in conducting political, economic and cultural exchanges with neighboring regions along the Silk Road. Of course, tourism destinations along the Silk Road will definitely give you the sweetest and deepest memory. 

The Silk Road—Shaanxi is better in the world vision!