Leaving the city, visitors drive to the area where the army was first discovered in 1974. What was finally unearthed proved to be one of the 20th century’s greatest archaeological finds, and ranks with the Great Wall and the Forbidden City as one of China’s most potent images.
During years of excavation, rank after rank of life-size terracotta warriors were discovered, each unique, built over 2,000 years before to guard the tomb of Emperor Qin Shi Huang.
In the brief and tyrannical 14-year reign of the Qin dynasty, Emperor Qin Shi Huang succeeded in unifying the Chinese empire for the first time, beginning the construction of the Great Wall and producing a tomb of such scale that even now new vaults are waiting to be unearthed. Such was the cruelty and severity of his regime, however, that he was soon overthrown; making way for the Han dynasty which was to last for 400 years.
Before seeing the army, a small film is viewed in a 360-degree auditorium. The film depicts life during the Qin dynasty with battles and ceremonies reconstructed, giving visitors a fascinating insight into the period.
The Terracotta Warriors are viewed around the edges of the vast pit. Plaques explain the intricate detail of the warriors, horses and chariots. After the discovery of the main army, two more chambers were discovered which are also on display.