Xi'an, China

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When tourists think of Xi’an, they immediately picture the Terracotta Warriors, but this ancient city harbors dozens of sights, small and large, from the looming city wall to neighborhood temples. Chang’an, as Xi’an was known in its heyday, was the capital city during a long procession of dynasties, culminating in the golden age of the Tang dynasty, when it had bragging rights as one of the world’s wealthiest, largest, and most sophisticated cities. After the city was sacked by Tibetans in AD 783 and the Tang dynasty dissolved in chaos, Xi’an lost its prominence, although it continued to broker trade with Central Asia.

A latecomer on the industrialization bandwagon, the Shaanxi’s capital now leads the region in construction and development, turning itself into a modern metropolis while taking care to preserve its dynastic heritage. Xi’an also contains a vibrant Muslim quarter, adding an element of architectural and cultural diversity to the city. Xi’an has something for everyone, and you’ll realize that a few days is hardly enough to explore its wealth of historic ruins, temples, and back alleys.

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