Xi’An | urban axis

City Wall Xi'an | May 31, 2011
City Wall Xi'an | May 31, 2011

The peak of development [of Xi’an 西安] was reached in the Tang dynasty in the 8th century AD when it covered an area of 84 sqkm and contained a total population of about 2 million people in its metropolitan area – the largest capital city ever built before the nineteenth century, so writes Alfred Schinz in Cities in China [1989]. Today, the city has about 10,108 sq km – of which 1,256 sq km is urban – and a total population of about 8 million people. The original orthogonal organization has been kept and expanded. Snapshots while scanning the city’s spine.

If the first impression of Xi’an 西安 [see airport airport – center] was random and based on decisions by local cab drivers – a fifty kilometer journey into the unknown and unscripted – then the second one was rigid, simple and determined by the urban lay-out – a twenty kilometers exploration of the city’s main north-south axis, a linear investigation combining urban organization with universal ambitions.

Here is the full description of Xi’an 西安 provided by Alfred Schinz in Cities in China [1989]:

The most important and renowned city was the capital city of the Han and Tang dynasties, the city of Chang An in the area of today’s Xi’an in Shaanxi province. The peak of development was reached in the Tang dynasty in the 8th century AD when it covered an area of 84 sqkm and contained a total population of about 2 million people in its metropolitan area – the largest capital city ever built before the nineteenth century. The layout of this Tang capital formed a rectangle of 8.6 x 9.7 km which was composed of 6 subdivisions. The central northern division contained the palace and the palace city with the main court offices and altars for the ritual ceremonies the emperor had to perform. East and west of the palace city were two sections with large building lots; south of those were two more sections with the normal residential areas, each containing a large market on the main east-west thoroughfare. The central south section contained the main thoroughfare traversing the city from north to south for about 5 km. All sections were subdivided into altogether 108 walled wards. The wards were an essential part of the control system of the imperial administration and were established in the early years of the empire.

Below the snapshots of the drive from the North Gate of the City Wall of Xi’an 西安 to the Shaanxi Television Tower in the South of the city.

Shaanxi Television Tower | May 31, 2011
Shaanxi Television Tower | May 31, 2011

Pictures by movingcities.org

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