The Terracotta Army (Chinese: 兵马俑; literally: “Soldier-and-horse funerary statues”) is a collection of terracotta sculptures depicting the armies of Qin Shi Huang, the first Emperor of China. It is a form of funerary art buried with the emperor in 210–209 BCE and whose purpose was to protect the emperor in his afterlife.
The figures, dating from approximately the late third century BCE, were discovered in 1974 by local farmers in Lintong District, Xi’an, Shaanxi province. The figures vary in height according to their roles, with the tallest being the generals. The figures include warriors, chariots and horses. Estimates from 2007 were that the three pits containing the Terracotta Army held more than 8,000 soldiers, 130 chariots with 520 horses and 150 cavalry horses, the majority of which remained buried in the pits nearby Qin Shi Huang’s mausoleum. Other terracotta non-military figures were found in other pits, including officials, acrobats, strongmen and musicians.
More Travel Essentials You Won’t Want to Miss
- Location: 30 kilometers east of Xi’an in Lintong District.
- Opening hours: 8:30am–5:30pm; 8:30am–5pm off-peak
- Entry: 150 yuan (March 1 – November 30); otherwise 120 yuan. Children under 1.2m: free of charge.
- Restrictions: Armed guards at the gate check for prohibited articles. No flash photography inside.
- Souvenir shops: When you finish your visit, you have to pass an area with a lot of souvenir shops. We don’t recommend you buy gifts there, as they may be over-priced. A better place to buy souvenirs is the market in Xi’an.
- Avoid the scams: For example, don’t buy the book signed by the farmer who claims to be one of the discovers of the Terracotta Army. They are all fake. Many play that role to rip off travelers. The book is over-priced at 180–200 yuan: (29–32 USD). Museum guides may recommend it to you!
- Avoid the crowds: Getting there earlier than the tourist groups will save you a lot of time waiting. It opens at 8:30am. Our guide will tell you the best time to depart from your hotel. Weekends are often more crowded than weekdays.
- Restaurants: There are many tourist restaurants around the museum, but lower your expectations on taste and quality. Some even may rip you off. Our guide will choose the best available restaurant for our customers.
- Toilets: There are toilets inside and outside the museum grounds. They are all Chinese-style squat toilets. Bring your own toilet paper and hand sanitizer. The on-site toilets are free, and those outside charge 1 yuan.
- Don’t go to the Tomb of Qin Shihuang as it is only a mound. It’s not excavated yet, so there’s not much to see.
How to get to Terracotta Warriors from Xi’an / Beijing / Shanghai:
Some personal pictures from my trip there: