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.


Drum Tower/City Wall

Drum Tower/City Wall

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.


Reenactment of Ming guards on parade and drum show

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!

Biking atop the city wall

Biking atop the city wall

Melissa Kapeckas

Categories: China Guest, Guest Posts

1 reply »

  1. Wow!!!! Looks like you had a lot of fun biking on the city wall!!!! I wish I could do that too.
    I like the information on the history of the Xi’an City Wall!!!!

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