Situated in north central China, Xi'an is among the great historic centers of the world - it is China's Luxor. Here the early tapestry of Chinese civilization was woven, the rise of the Zhou kingdom which introduced the "Mandate of Heaven", the Warring State of Qin which defeated and unified the country into the first empire from which "Qin" gave the West the concept of "China". Then, turning westward, through the golden ages of the Han and the Tang, Xi'an sparkled as the largest and most cosmopolitan city on earth. The gateway to the fabled Silk Road of yore, traders and travelers from the Levant, the Middle East, Central Asia and beyond made their way to the bustling markets of this most open of ancient cities. This comprehensive guidebook, highlighting the city and its environs, leads the reader on a journey through China's glorious ancient history, from the origin of the distinctive landscape of northern China and the early stirrings of Neolithic culture at sites like Banpo, through its rise to Imperial capital in the Qin, Han and Tang (among other periods), to its relative decline and vital modern role as an administrative center and investment portal to China's vast northwest frontier.