Saturday, April 17, 2010

Man Made Marvels - Xi'an

Hopfrog, a frequent commenter on here, posted a link to a very worthwhile video in the comments of my last post.

The video is a program that on the Discovery Channel about ancient Chang'an and Xi'an. Chang'an is what Xi'an was known as for much of its history. For anyone who's every been to Xi'an or has any interest in the place, it is a must see.

I'm not sure the next time the program is going to air on TV. The schedule doesn't show when it'll run again (a program on the Leshan Buddha will run on Monday though). Below my summary, I've embedded the program from YouTube.

The show begins with the construction of ancient Chang'an during the Han Dynasty. This part particularly was enlightening to me. I'll admit that my Han era history is not good and learned a lot during this section.

The rebuilding of Chang'an during the Tang Dynasty is featured next. The Tang time period was the cultural apex of ancient China. The arts flourished and commerce boomed with the Silk Road during this era. Chang'an was indeed the biggest and most cosmopolitan city in the world then.

The Tang era is still celebrated a lot in Xi'an. I lived within walking distance of "Tang Paradise," a Tang-themed park with cultural shows and such. I actually taught some English classes to the tour guides at Tang Paradise when I lived in Xi'an. That was pretty cool.

My favorite part of the program was the section of the Big Wild Goose Pagoda, also in the Tang Dynasty section of the show. I lived within a five minute walk from the pagoda for over three years. I either walked or rode my bike past it every day on my way to work. It has a very special place in my heart. Learning more about it just now was awesome.

And last was the section on the reconstruction of the city (again) during the Ming Dynasty. The Ming reconstruction is still the foundation for present-day Xi'an. The city walls are featured prominently during this section. As the program says, Xi'an's city walls are the largest and best preserved city walls in the world. They are a very unique aspect of life in Xi'an.

This program makes me very proud of my Chinese 故乡 (hometown) - Xi'an. It also makes me want to go back. I can't wait to go visit again.

Hopfrog, thank you so much for pointing this show out to me.

Below are the embeds of the video, split into five sections:











Edit - I just found this show on Youku for anyone reading this living in China:

3 comments:

Hopfrog said...

Glad you enjoyed too! Another cool thing about that Pagoda, there is probably a crypt underneath it (according to some funky land sonar device they showed) with all kinds of cool artifacts inside.

I had no idea how incredible the walls of xian were, man I really cannot wait to visit this city now, its on the top of my list when I get back over there. Yeah when I first saw the promo, I was like *sigh* another hour with the Terracotta Warriors, but they hardly mentioned them.

Just amazing to imagine the silk road and all other types of trade routes funneling into Chang'an and into the biggest trading bazaar in the world. Man what I would give to have a time machine and just visit ancient cities like that for a day.

Ramesh said...

Thanks Mark & Hopfrog. I know very little about Xi'an and look forward to be able to view the program once I get to a part of the world where YouTube isn't blocked.

Well said Hopfrog - I too would give anything to have a time machine that would enable living in those times for a day.

Mark said...

@Hopfrog - That crypt must be insane. We'll see on when they ever go down there. It must have unimaginable treasures.

You'll really like Xi'an. No matter when you (or anyone else reading this) goes there, let me know. I'd be happy to give you heads up on places to go.

@Ramesh - I found this video on Youku if you want to watch it. I embedded and linked to it on the main page.