Big Wild Goose Pagoda

Admission:

RMB 50, RMB 30 to climb pagoda

Hours:

Apr-Oct: 8am-7pm daily, Nov-Mar: 8am-6pm daily

How to get there:

Located just south of the city, you can either take a taxi or get there via bus Nos. 5, 19 or 21.

Before the Terracotta Warriors were unearthed and stole the limelight, Xi'an's number one landmark was the Big Wild Goose Pagoda (Dàyàn Tǎ, 大雁塔) located in the Temple of Great Maternal Grace (Dàcí'ēn Sì, 大慈恩寺).

This square pyramid structure was first built in 652 A.D. by Tang Emperor Gaozong. The original five stories were added to and renovated over the centuries, leaving us with the current seven story building standing at a height of 64 m (210 ft). Built from brick and wood in classic Ming-style architecture, Big Wild Goose Pagoda was constructed to house and protect the Buddhist sutras and figurines brought from India by monk Xuan Zang, who would later translate them into Chinese. Though no one is absolutely certain, it is surmised that the "Big Goose" name comes from the classic novel Journey to the West (Xī Yóu Jì, 西游记), which features a fanciful version of the famous monk's adventures in the company of the mischevious Monkey King. In the story, the heroes are saved while crossing a vast desert by a magic goose.

You can climb to the top to take in one of the best views of the city, looking down over the grid-like layout of Xi'an. Tradition says it's good luck to throw coins out of the pagoda. This may be true for those above, but if you're in the park below you might want to watch out lest you take a few lucky RMB to the noggin.

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