Xian has a historical district. Actually it has several, and all of them are sort of new. I was not here 20 years ago, but I assume like elsewhere in China the major tourist sights like the Wild Goose Pagoda were here, and you could go into them but right around them would be just an ordinary Chinese neighborhood. This was not a good way to benefit from tourism, so a lot of of these “historic” districts have sprung up. They seem to be getting better at it. One that interested me is the one outside the Forest of Steles (碑林)
You don’t see a lot of foreigners there, since the Forest of Steles is a bunch of big stones with Chinese inscriptions that are all in Chinese. The shopping street seems to be aimed mostly at Chinese tourists, since they sell a lot of calligraphy supplies and such that would perhaps not interest foreigners. They have classical poems written on the ground, which would also not make sense to most foreigners.
Still, if your main target is tourists some things are always the same Chinese or foreign. Lots of traditional-looking buildings, narrow streets, etc.
This one is more recent and a bit better done than some of the others. As I have discussed before, many Chinese sights are much more obviously reconstructed than would be accepted in the West. Xian’s historic district seems to be a bit later (completed in 2009) and they seem to have worked at making things look more authentically old. These hitching posts look weathered.
I think they may have planted grass on this roof, since it takes a while to grow.1
Here is a signpost that is really odd. The top of it looks “old” but the middle section looks like it has been repaired with concrete.
In fact the whole thing is brand new, as far as I can tell. It seems that what Chinese want for “past -y ness” is starting to become more ‘authentic’ or at least more like what you find elsewhere.
Sorry for the pictures, by the way. It was pouring rain ↩