The Red Lantern Ride – Xi’an City Wall

P1100260A wonderful delight in Xi’an was cycling around the old city wall.  In fact we liked it so much that after completing our morning ride with Karin and Wei we returned the following day to do a sunset ride.  Steve aptly named the circuit the “Red Lantern Ride”.

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Plenty of room to ride
Plenty of room to ride
Xi’an is one of the few cities in China where the complete city wall is still standing and that’s pretty amazing because it was built in 1370 during the Ming Dynasty.  This is a huge structure, the walls are 12 metres tall, 12-14 metres wide at the top and 15-18 metres thick at the bottom.  The walls form a rectangle with a perimeter of 13.7 km.

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Initially the wall was built with earth, quick lime and glutinous rice extract.  This made it strong however it was also susceptible to the weather and later it was totally enclosed in bricks.  There are some cracks in the wall and there was a sign saying that the horizontal cracks are the most worrying. I hope they work out how to maintain it

There is something surreal about using a structure that has been around for 700 years to cycle on.

P1100254This must be the safest bike ride in China as the only traffic on the wall is pedestrians, other cyclists (some young lovers on tandems) and the occasional electric car transporting less active tourists. All we really had to worry about was random missing paving stones.

P1100264The ride provides a much needed and appreciated escape from the chaotic traffic and side walk crowds of Xi’an, a city with a population of 8 million.

The wall is a great vantage point to view the beautifully landscaped park alongside the moat that surrounds the outer wall.

P1100245We watched the kite flyers, whip crackers, table tennis players, badminton players, exercisers and dancers taking advantage of the parklands.

Inside the wall, busy modern life goes on and there is a mixture of old and modern buildings. It’s clear that a building covenant has more recently been put in place with newer buildings following a more traditional design and being much more attractive.

P1100261There are passages up to the wall, with gradually ascending steps, made so that it was easy for war horses to ascend and descend. As we rode our trusty steads around the wall I could almost hear the thundering of the war horses’ hooves echoing from the past.

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