The famed Terra Cotta Warriors are undoubtedly Xian's star attraction and one of the most significant archaeological discoveries of the 20th century. Catapulting this ancient city into international stardom, the life-size clay army was unearthed from the mausoleum of China’s First Emperor, Qin Shi Huang. Today it has earned the title of the 8th Wonder of the World and was named an UNESCO World Heritage Site.
In 221 BC, 13-year old Qin became the first emperor to unite the country and began construction of the Great Wall. The boy king was obsessed with building and also with the idea of death. After attempting to prolong his life with experimental potions, he resigned himself to a natural death.
To enforce his rule in the afterlife, the emperor commissioned a standing army of 7,000 life-size terra cotta soldiers, horses and carriages be assembled. After their completion, which reportedly took 38 years, they were placed in pits in precise military formation, according to rank and duty. They remained buried underground until 1974 when Chinese farmers digging a well serendipitiously unearthed a terracotta head. Since then, the extraordinaryTerracotta Warriors have been attracting thousands of visitors who come to witness this spectacular piece of China’s historic past.