After Zhu Yuanzhang (1328-1398), the founder of Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), occupied the city of Huizhou, he was advised by a recluse named Zhu Sheng that “build indestructible city walls and hoard grains before declaring yourself emperor”. At the age when the city gates were the only entrances of a city, city walls were undoubtedly the crucial defense points that feudalistic rulers focused on. Therefore, city walls were constructed nationally when the emperor unified the country. The circumvallation in Xi’an today was one of the achievements, which was built and expanded on the former imperial city of Tang Dynasty (618-907).
At the very beginning, the body of the Ancient City Wall in Xi’an was built with layered loess, and the base was tamped with the mixture of sticky rice juice, lime and earth. This simple but hard wall was not paved with black bricks until 1568. It was stable enough to allow solders to practice and chariot to run on it. The wall was increased to be 12 meters high, 12-14 and 15-18 meters width on the top and the bottom respectively. 98 observation towers in total were built every 120 meters extruding the city wall to defense enemies who climbed into the wall.
One water channel is equipped every 40-60 meters on the top of the Ancient City Wall as drainage, which plays an important part in keep the wall from destroy from flood. Along the wall encircles the wide and deep city moat, with a drawbridge on the front gate of the city which could be raised up and descended down at any time to ensure the security of the city.
Main Structures Constituting the Ancient City Wall of Xi’an
The Ancient City Wall of Xi’an is a rigorous and integrated military defense system comprising city moat, drawbridge, various observation towers, battlements, turrets, parapets and crenels. Since constructed from Sui and Tang dynasties about 1400 years ago, the wall has experienced series of alteration and finalized the current layout, with the Changle Gate (East Gate), the Yongning Gate (South Gate), the Anding Gate (West Gate) and the Anyuan Gate (North Gate) being the four main city gate