Although the Terracota army of Emperor Qin is the main attraction in Xian, there is another lesser known subterranean army that is just as, if not more, impressive!
The underground army of Han Emperor Jing Di Liu Qi and Empress Wang Zhi at Yangling, is six times larger, houses around 40,000 individual figures, and is supposed to have taken 28 years to construct!
The army was interred with the king in 141 BC around his burial mound that is still untouched. The swank museum sits right over the 10 excavated pits (of the 81 in total!!) The floor of the museum is clear glass and beneath your feet, half embedded in the trenches, lie columns of miniature doll like figures of clay soldiers and animals!
These figures are one third the size of the Qin warriors and unlike them, once had colorful silk attire and movable wooden limbs that have long since disintegrated! Another distinct difference between the two sites is the the absence of jostling hordes of tourists that makes for a more intimate viewing.
With its softly lit trenches, the limbless naked figures with their gentle smiling faces, and the reverent hush that pervades the space, this special museum seems a fitting tribute to a benevolent emperor who ushered in peace and revived cultural freedom after the repressive regime of Qin.
Located just 40 km from the center of town towards the airport, Han Yangling Museum, in my opinion, should be an unmissable part of any Xian itinerary.
Until next time…happy travels, no matter where life takes you!