The Terracotta Warriors
Qin Shi Huang, who ascended the throne in 246 B.C. whilst still a child, was the first emperor of a unified China. His long reign was characterised by a ruthless efficiency and it was Qin Shi Huang who began the construction of the Great Wall. His tomb, some 28km east of the city of Xi'an, is today little more than a burial mound and attracted little attention until 1974 when some peasants made the astonishing discovery, while sinking a well, of the army of terracotta warriors that had been buried to guard the emperor in the afterlife. No written records existed to indicate that such an army had been built. Subsequent excavations revealed the true extent of this marvellous accomplishment - some 8,000 individually designed life-size statues of men (as well as some horses and chariots) covering an immense area. The main site is now housed in a giant hangar for the protection of the statues (pictured). The Terracotta Warriors are without doubt a must-see attraction for any visitor to China.