Home China Guide Xi'an Attractions The Terracotta Army Facts You Won't Know about the Terracotta Army

Facts You Won't Know about the Terracotta Army

The Terracotta Warriors and HorsesThe Terracotta Warriors and Horses
  • Popular name: The Terracotta Army
  • Full name: Qin Mausoleum Terracotta Warriors and Horses
  • Chinese: 秦陵兵马俑 Qínlíng Bīngmǎyǒng /chin-ling bing-mah-yong/
  • Literally: ‘Qin Tomb Soldier and Horse Burial Figurines'

Why It's Amazing

  • Part of the world’s largest ancient imperial tomb complex —part of a mostly unexcavated necropolis 6 km (4 mi) square!
  • One of the top archaeological finds of the 20th century
  • 2,200 years old! — It dates back to the uniting of China under one emperor, who's buried there.
  • The largest find of its kind (about 1,800 different life-size statues have been uncovered)
  • Incredible detail: 175–190 cm (5'9–6'3) tall, every one different in gestures and facial expressions, some even with color showing
  • All have single-edge eyelids! Legend says the First Emperor had single-edge eyelids, so all his Terracotta Army were made with them.

"The Eighth Wonder of the World"

The Terracotta ArmyThe Terracotta Army
  • Named: September 1978
  • By: French President Jacques Chirac
  • Quote: "There were Seven Wonders in the world, and the discovery of the Terracotta Army, we may say, is the eighth miracle of the world. No one who has not seen the pyramids can claim to have visited Egypt, and now I'd say that no one who has not seen these terracotta figures can claim to have visited China."

A Top China Tourist Sight

  • In the top 10 China sights for international tourists to visit
  • Visited by over 70 heads of state: Former U.S. Presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Wilson Reagan, Former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Alfred Kissinger, Former U.S. Vice President Walter Frederick Mondale, Denmark's Queen Margret II, Former German Chancellors Karl Carstens and Helmut Kohl, Great Britain's Queen Elizabeth II...
  • Our most popular 2-Day Essence of Xi'an Tour combines the world-famous Terracotta Army with more of Xi'an's best sights. See more Xi'an tours including the Terracotta Army.

Why It Was Made

  • Original purpose: An afterlife army for First Emperor Qin. 
Theerracotta FiguresSee a terracotta figure closely

Layout of the Terracotta Warriors 

  • Facing east (towards the ancient enemies of the Qin State)
  • Right flank: infantry and chariots (Vault One) on the right flank
  • Left forward position: various archers, infantry, cavalry, and chariots (Vault Two)
  • Rear left position: command post with officers, a chariot, and soldier detachment (Vault Three)
  • Battle array theory: from The Art of War by Sun Tzu
  • Archaeological Significance: It reveals much about the Qin Empire’s technology, military, arts, culture, and military.

Key Features

The Terracotta Army Museum and the Qin Mausoleum are now combined as a single site, called Lishan Garden. 

the Terracotta Army Museum Map

Vault 1

  • Largest and most impressive (about 230 x 60 m) — airplane-hangar-sized.
  • The main army: 6,000 terracotta figures (<2,000 displayed)
Pit OneVault One displays about 2,000 warriors

Vault 2

  • "Highlight of the vaults" (about 96 x 84 m)
  • 4 battle arrays: archers, chariots, mixed forces, and cavalry

Vault 3

  • Smallest, but very important (21 x 17 m)
  • The command post — 68 figures: officers, soldiers, and a chariot.

Bronze Carriage Exhibition Hall

  • The world's largest and most intricate ancient bronze artifacts
  • 2 carriages: 3,400 parts and 1,234 kg each!
  • Sumptuous gold and silver ornamentation: 1,720 pieces, weighing 7 kg per carriage

Auxiliary Museums

  • Museum of the Terracotta Acrobats; Museum of Terracotta Civil Officials; Museum of Stone Armor

First Emperor Qin's Tomb

  • Huge burial mound — 400m square (32 football pitches), originally 100m (328 ft) high, now 47m (154 ft)
  • Treasures: Unexcavated, it may contain vast wealth. Historian Sima Qian (135–86 BC) wrote it contained 'a world with mountains made of gold, stars represented by pearls, jewels, and flowing rivers of mercury'.
  • Location: two kilometers west of the Terracotta Army

See our Qin Mausoleum attraction page for more.

Bronze CarriageSA bronze carriage


  • 249 BC: Construction began on the tomb of Qin Shi Huang (259 BC – 210 BC), 'First Emperor' of a united China.
  • The workforce: Historians think 700,000 craftsmen and slaves built the complex, but they and many others were put to death to keep the mausoleum a secret!
  • 209 BC: The First Emperor died and was buried with his terracotta army in the incomplete necroplis.
  • 1974: Discovered by farmers digging a well.
  • 1979: Opened to the public.
  • 1987: Listed as UNESCO World Heritage.
  • 2011: Three auxiliary museums opened.

Travel Essentials for Planning a Trip

  • Location: about 35 km (22 mi) northeast of central Xi'an (34.39N,109.27E)
  • Entry: 150 yuan (March 1 – November 30); otherwise 120 yuan. Children under 1.2 meters: free of charge.
  • Hours: 8:30am–5:30pm (Mar. 16 – Nov. 14); 8:30am–5pm off-peak

How to Get There

See our Terracotta Army attraction page for more details and recommendations.

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