Ancient Xi'an restored in major project
Relics park will display and preserve remnants of 2,000-year-old city
A massive preservation project aiming to restore the ancient layout of Xi'an will be completed by 2020 in the capital city of Shaanxi province.
At the center of the project is the construction of a special relics park at the site of the ancient city of Chang'an.
Work started last year and is progressing well, said Xi'an Mayor Dong Jun.
"Xi'an is famous for its Terracotta Warriors, but we have much more than that," he said. "With this project, we want to restore the urban layout of Xi'an back to what it was 2,000 years ago."
Chang'an, which means "perpetual peace" in classical Chinese, was an ancient capital for more than ten dynasties, and today is known as Xi'an.
For more than 200 years during the Western Han Dynasty (206BC-AD24), Chang'an was the center of Chinese politics, economy and culture. Given the frequency of international exchanges that took place in the city, Han Dynasty Chang'an is regarded as China's earliest international metropolis, according to Dong.
Historical records show that the city took 90 years to build, from 194 to 104 BC. It was prosperous and functionally designed, containing eight main streets, 160 alleys and nine marketplaces.
Today, many cultural relics of the ancient Chang'an still exist, but they need proper preservation, Dong added.
To achieve that, the city government plans to create a special relics park covering the center of the ancient city in Northwest Xi'an, covering an area of 75 sq km, he said.
The mayor did not disclose the estimated investment of the project, but previous media reports said it may cost 60 billion yuan ($7.7 billion).
A key feature will be the remains of the imperial Weiyang Palace complex, where many major historical events took place. For instance, Zhang Qian, a diplomat of the Western Han Dynasty, set out from there to inaugurate the Silk Road.
Dong said city officials are currently busy preparing for a heritage examination by UNESCO officers on Weiyang Palace this summer.
But a current priority for the construction of the relic park is to relocate about 100,000 residents.
"So far, 15,000 people from nine villages in the district have been relocated, and all of them have received proper resettlement," Dong said.
To preserve the ancient city, Xi'an government has been imposing restrictions on the development of some industries in the district, which have greatly affected the income of local residents, Dong added.
Last year, the per capita annual income of residents in the district was only 10,000 yuan, a third of that for residents living outside the district, he said.
"Therefore, we have paid special attention to safeguarding the rights and interests of local residents during the relocation."
For example, the resettlement area has been placed near the city government offices. Hospitals, schools, supermarkets and parks are also being built to facilitate their transition, Dong said.
The ongoing preservation efforts are expected to boost visitor numbers to the city this year.
Last year, Xi'an attracted 78.64 million domestic tourists and 1.15 million overseas tourists, 20 percent and 15 percent rises respectively on 2012, according to official figures.
"This year, we expect to see 1.3 million overseas travelers," Dong said.
"And we plan to better promote the city overseas, such as advertising in foreign media and making promotional films in multiple languages."