Xian is one of the few old cities in China where the original city walls are still visible. The walls were built on in the foundations of the walls of the Tang Forbidden City during the reign of the Emperor Hong Wu, first emperor of the Ming Dynasty (1638 – 1644 AD), it is the world's largest and best-preserved ancient fortress. The Xian city wall forms a rectangle with a circumference of 13.79 kilometers and has 5,984 crenels and 98 places for the garrison troops to stay in. On each side of the wall is a gateway, and over each stands a series of three main towers. At each of the four corners stands an embrasured watchtower and the top of the wall is punctuated with defense towers. The city wall is surrounded by a moat and a ring road lined with trees and dotted with pavilions and kiosks to form the huge Around-the-City Park. The wall is 12 meters high, with a width at the top of 12–14 meters and 15–18 meters at the base. It was originally covered in grey brick although a lot of this has been removed and in parts only the earthen rampart remains. Some sections of the wall have completely disappeared.
Activities Associated with the City Wall
1. An Ancient-style Ceremony for Welcoming Guests into Xi'an City
The north Gate (Anyuan Gate), located at the south end of Yingbin Road, is the only city gate that one must pass from the airport and east railway station to inner city. The ceremony for welcoming guests into Xi'an city is held there in order to reproduce the high courteous reception of the Tang Dynasty.
When the guests come to the outside of the North Gate, the "warriors" in armor on both sides of the gate, shout "open the door" together and push the two leaves of heavy vermilion door open slowly. In the melodious ancient music, the "rite officials", guided by the "maids", holding lanterns in hands, welcome the guests out of the gate, present them with "welcoming wine" and issue the "official pass document" to every guest. The guests, guided by the "official" and "maids", enter the Wengcheng city by walking through 100-meter-long red carpet. Tens of "dancing maids" dance trippingly along the imperial pavement to give warm welcome to the guests from home and abroad. The "government officials" affix the vermilion city seal to the "official pass document". By doing that, the guests fell as if they were back to the prosperous Tang Dynasty 1,000 years ago and enjoy the elegance of Tang culture.
2. Xian City Wall International Marathon
Xi'an City Wall International Marathon of China Silk Road is a newly tourism program sponsored by the Xian tourism administration. The event is held on top of the ancient city wall on November. It consists of the 5km, 10km, men and women halfway races, the participators are from home and abroad, they are not limited in age.