Picturing China: A Photographic Tour of Xi’an

For 2,000 years, Xi’an — once known as Chang’an — served as the imperial capital of China, witnessing the rise and fall of eleven dynasties. The contemporary urban landscape thus reflects this rich historical heritage and, unlike many other major cities, much of its architectural history has been preserved and now serve as major sites for visitors from all over the world. See the photo gallery here »

Map of medieval Chang’an (China) in the medieval era (the peak of the Tang Dynasty, around 750 AD):


Chang’an was by far the largest city in the world at the time, boasting between 1 and 2 million residents. This was probably twice as large as any other city in the world at the time. This map also illustrates some of the religious diversity in China at the time, as the Tang were quite open to the rest of the world relative to other Chinese dynasties.

It is striking that, even though a city of this size was a massive anomaly in the medieval world, we are projected to have 546 1 million-plus cities by 2025… up from 75 in 1950 (http://blogs.ft.com/beyond-brics/2011/10/21/chart-of-the-week-the-million-plus-cities/)! 

While jostling with what seemed like all of the billion-plus people of China in the tight halls of the 2014 Beijing auto show, we came across this gloriously preserved early jeep. Except this jeep ain’t from Toledo—and it isn’t an uppercase-J Jeep. Instead, it’s from a Chinese company called Changan that claims this is China’s […]

East v. West. Biggest Cities in world over time

This was taken from a book called ”Why The West Rules — For Now" by Ian Morris.

via business insider

To get a handle on how large the Tang Dynasty Chang’an was:


The large city is Tang dynasty Chang’an—present day Xi’an—from about 800 AD. The small orange city is a map of Paris in 1200 AD—400 years later. I tried making them to scale, but may be a bit off. For those who have been to Xi’an, the present day walls are only slightly larger than the palace walls (the area in darker grey). Although they do believe that some of the more outlying wards in Chang’an were essentially rural.