The Terracotta Army (兵马俑, bīngmǎ yǒng; literally "soldier and horse funerary statues") in Xi'an (or near Xi'an, to be more precise) is one of the top 10 most impressive and most visited places in China.
The Terracotta Army was discovered by chance in 1974 by several local farmers who were digging a well near the Mausoleum of the First Qin Emperor (秦始皇陵, Qín Shǐhuáng Líng). The terracotta figures (over 8,000 soldiers, 130 chariots with 520 horses and 150 cavalry horses, the majority still buried in the pits) were the Warriors and Horses of Shi Huang Di the First Emperor of China, they were buried with the Emperor of Qin (Shi Huangdi) in 209-210 BC.
Read more at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terracotta_army and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xi'an
If you pick only two things to see in China then it should probably be the Great Wall of China and The Terracotta Army.
Xi'an has an airport (ticket to Shanghai was around $100 in 2005) and good railway connection to Beijing and Shanghai. There are several good hostels in Xi'an.
POLLUTION IN XI'AN IS UNBELIEVABLE!!! If you suffer from asthma or other similar ailments brace yourself.
This slide show is made of pictures I took in Xi'an in 2005: http://picasaweb.google.com/yilongwei.c ... 0784821442
If you want to see the same pictures with comments on practically every picture in the set please go to: