Chinese History Lesson #1: Xi’an City Wall
Here’s another post from Innovation Academy Middle School Principal Melissa Kapeckas who is in China! She is traveling as part of a delegation of Massachusetts school leaders participating in the US-China Administrator shadowing project. She is actually in Beijing now, but the internet was bad back in Xi’an so we are playing a little catch up. Check back tomorrow for another entry and more throughout the month of April.
During the Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD), city walls were built around Xi’an, the original capital of China. Later, during the Ming Dynasty, the city walls were expanded upon the foundation. At this time, the city was completed within these protective walls that have a perimeter of 13 kilometers. Six hundred years old, the wall has multiple towers with varied purposes.
Today, the bell tower rings a pleasant tone at night and in the morning. (The first morning in Xi’an, I thought the bell tower was our hotel wake up call and wandered around the dark room trying to turn it off.) However, the original purpose of the bells were to signal that it was safe to open the gate to the city. Large drums were used to signal threat at the Drum Tower, and the gate would be closed over the protective moat. The shortest wall is at the south gate and forms a trap. If invaders were able to climb over this shortest wall, they would find themselves trapped within an enclosed inner chamber. Ming Dynasty guards would be able to shoot arrows from above the trap upon the invaders.
Today the gate and walls are a popular gathering place. There are daily reenactments of Ming Guards on parade and drumming shows. Renting a bicycle to ride atop the city wall was a blast!