Note: This post is part of a series authored by First Lady Michelle Obama to share her visit to China with young people in the U.S. You can read all of the First Lady's posts at WhiteHouse.gov/First-Lady-China-Trip.
After seeing the Terra Cotta Warriors outside of Xi’an, we returned to the city to view the Xi’an City Wall.
The Xi’an City Wall is the oldest and largest surviving wall of its kind in China. It’s a 40-foot tall rectangle that stretches for 8.5 miles. At its base, the Wall is 50 or 60 feet wide. At the top, it’s about 40 feet wide – wide enough for Xi’an residents and tourists to run, walk, or ride a bike around (it takes about four hours to walk the entire distance at a leisurely pace). From the wall you can see the ancient Bell Tower, a beautiful building which marks the center of the ancient city.
Xi’an was once China’s capital city, and even after the capital was relocated, the city remained an important military stronghold for centuries. Just like the Great Wall, the Xi’an City Wall was originally built for defense, with watchtowers and even a deep moat and drawbridges. Parts of the wall date back to the seventh century, and the wall we know today was completed in the 14th century. Since then, it has been refurbished three times – roughly once every two hundred years – in the late 1500s, the late 1700s and, most recently, in 1983.