Around two centuries ago there was no ‘China’: it was just a collection of 38 states, all vying for power. Out of the chaos rose Zhao Zheng, who unified the country, built the original Great Wall and declared himself China’s first emperor.
This achieved, he wasn’t keen to pass it on and ordered his people to discover an elixir of immortality so he’d never die. But, just in case, he set about creating the world’s biggest mausoleum, guarded by 7,000 life-sized clay warriors with real weapons. The Terracotta Army lay underground in secret until 1974, when a chance discovery revealed the legend of this vanished civilisation.
Why and how were they made? No one knows. But one thing’s for sure: only a visit to the mausoleum of the first Qin emperor and a Terracotta Warriors tour can really put into perspective the sheer scale and backbreaking labour that went into this extraordinary feat.
See the Terracotta Warriors, along with the Great Wall of China, Tiananmen Square and The Forbidden City on our unforgettable China Experience tour.