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Xihoudu Site

The information contained here are subject to change. Chinese History Digest is not responsible or liable if any changes should occur.

Opening Hours

8am - 6pm

Entrance Ticket Prices

20 yuan

The Xihoudu Site is a highly significant archeological site that is located in a very remote area of China's Shanxi province. Travellers that are interested in visiting this prehistoric cradle of human civilization can do so on a day trip from the city of Xi'an which lies about a two-hour drive to the west. Public transportation to and within this remote area at the junction of the Chinese provinces of Shanxi, Shaanxi and Henan is very inconvenient. It is therefore best to reach the Xihoudu Site which lies at the northwest corner of Ruicheng County by car. (Please check out our recommended hotel section at the bottom of this page for different ways how to reach the Xihoudu Site.) Most modern car navigation systems have the site marked near Xihoudu Village on the left bank of the Yellow River. There, the archeological site can be found on an ancient terrace on the western slope of the Zhongtiao Mountains, about 170 meters above the mighty Yellow River that makes its curve from south to east just a few kilometers away.

burnt animal bones unearthed at the Xihoudu Siteburnt animal bones unearthed at the Xihoudu SiteAs is mentioned in the prehistory section of this website, the Xihoudu Site's paramount historical importance is based on two important discoveries that were made at the site in the 1960s. First of all, prehistoric animal bones were found at the site with scorch marks on them. This archeological evidence for the human use of fire was at first carbon-dated to be about 1.8 million years old but according to more recent analysis, it may even be more than 2.4 million years old (according to the latest results that were obtained through carbon-14 dating). That makes the Xihoudu Site the world's earliest site for the human use of fire. The second reason for the site's importance are the primitive stone tools that were discovered there as well which might (if genuinely man-made and not natural in origin) be the world's oldest man-made tools.

The importance of these findings becomes clear when one considers that the use of fire is perhaps the most primitive and essential characteristic that distinguishes us human beings from animals. The Xihoudu Site can therefore be considered as the place where human civilization began (previously, Africa was considered to be that place!). The climate at the Xihoudu site's location has already been scientifically proven to have been much milder during the above-mentioned prehistoric timeframe. That resulted in an abundant flora and fauna which included all kinds of plants as well as prehistoric animals such as giant beavers, saber-toothed elephants, flat-fronted elephants and steppe antelopes.

Museum display at the site showing the archeological excavations that took place thereMuseum display at the site showing the archeological excavations that took place thereThe Xihoudu Site was discovered in 1959 and archeological excavations were carried out at the site in 1961, 1962 and 2005. The first two excavations in the 1960s unearthed 32 pieces of suspected stone tools (including fragments) as well as a large number of animal fossils, some of which had burn marks on them and/or evidence of scraping or chopping. The stone objects were mostly made out of quartzite of various colors but some were also made out of vein quartz and volcanic rock. Most of the animal fossils were identified to belong to one of 22 different species of mammals (most of which lived on grasslands). Preliminary analysis and dating of these discovered paleolithic relics established their age to be about 1.8 million years old.

In 2005, a third excavation at the Xihoudu Site that lasted for more than 50 days uncovered around 1,500 stone objects and animal fossils. This excavation provided even more proof for the human use of fire at the site in the form of burned animal bones, horns and teeth as well as cut or scraped antlers.

side entrance to the mountaintop experience exhibition hallside entrance to the mountaintop experience exhibition hallIn order to make all these discoveries accessible to the public, a museum was already built at the site in 2013. (The structures on the hilltop terrace that are described further below on this page were built in the lead-up to the 2019 National Youth Games.) The museum is located at the foot of the terraced hill where all the prehistoric relics were excavated. This is where a visit of the Xihoudu Site begins for the relatively few tourists that make it here each day. The museum's 380-square-meter exhibition hall showcases replicas and even some of the original items that were unearthed during the three archeological digs. Since recognizing the evidence of human activities on the displayed stone objects and animal fossils isn't always obvious, especially to visitors with limited knowledge about prehistoric life, it is highly advisable to use the services of the specially-trained tour guides that are working at the museum.

Furthermore, the museum's use of modern technology such as multimedia and augmented reality also helps visitors to gain a better understanding of how life must have been like for our distantly-related human ancestors during prehistoric times. Another section of the museum focusses on the achievements of some of China's most-renowned archeologists, including Jia Lanpo, Wang Jian and Wang Yiren.

cantilever viewing platforms on the hilltopcantilever viewing platforms on the hilltopAfter finishing their visit of the relatively small museum at the Xihoudu Site, most tourists will ascend towards the terrace of the hill where the original archeological discoveries were made. Since having been totally transformed by the architecture firm Urbanus that has built viewing platforms as well as a uniquely-designed mountaintop experience exhibition hall on the hilltop terrace there a few years ago, the entire site is now also known as "Holy Fire Lit Place". What makes the exhibition hall that was built there so special is that it was built in the shape of a cave. The cave's main entrance is located about mid-hill when following the stone steps that lead uphill. (There is also a side entrance further up the hill.)

The "Holy Fire Seed Collecting Terrace" is the most prominent structure that visitors will see inside the showroom of this artificial cave. There is also an acoustic installation towards the back. However, the most impressive visual aspect of the showroom cave is the narrow gap on its western side through which a beam of light illuminates its interior, symbolically delivering fire from the heavens to the human race. When visitors climb up the stairs that lead up through this narrow gap, they will come to the top platform of the mountaintop experience exhibition hall. The panoramic views in all directions from this wide platform will delight photographers. Children though will perhaps be more impressed by the chimney-like designs that lead directly down inside the showroom underneath from here.

torch lighting ceremony for the 2019 National Youth Games at the Xihoudu Historical Sitetorch lighting ceremony for the 2019 National Youth Games at the Xihoudu Historical SiteWhereas "Discovery of Fire" is the theme of the eastern part of the hilltop where the cavelike exhibition hall is located, the middle part of the hilltop celebrates the "Rite of Fire". This part of the hilltop terrace at the Xihoudu Site is used for events and the viewing platforms that partially surround the "Sacred Fire Plaza" at the center of this area also provide great views of the Yellow River and even Mount Hua in the faraway distance. On the 28th of March 2019, the torch lighting ceremony for China's 2nd National Youth Games took place at the center of this plaza. The red sculpture of a flame named "Tianhuotai" now stands at this place as a reminder of these events.

Finally, the westermost part of the hilltop is dedicated to the "Conquest of Fire". The most prominent feature of this area are the five cantilever viewing platforms that extend over the northern side of the hill. Visitors that are brave enough to step onto these overhanging platforms will surely enjoy the spectacular views of the Loess Plateau from here. There is also a restroom in this area behind a small grove of walnut trees. The walking trail that leads downhill is located behind a small square near the 5th cantilever viewing platform at the hilltop's western edge.

As a final note it is important to point out that the Xihoudu Site is not the only renowned prehistoric relic site that has been discovered and excavated near the city of Xi'an. The Gongwangling and Chenjiawo Sites that are also mentioned in the prehistory section of this website lie relatively close to the city of Xi'an as well. Although not as spectacular to visit as the Xihoudu Site, the Lantian Apeman Site Museum that has been built at the location of these two archeological sites (that were discovered and excavated right next to each other) might interest some history buffs as well.

aerial view of the Holy Fire Lit Place near Xihoudu Villageaerial view of the Holy Fire Lit Place near Xihoudu Village

How to get to the Xihoudu Site in Ruicheng County?

Address: Holy Fire Lit Place, 042 Township Road near Xihoudu Village, Fenglingdu Town, Ruicheng County, Shanxi Province, China
Airport: Xi'an Xianyang International Airport (XIY)
Train Station: Huashan Railway Station or Huashan North Railway Station,
Xi'an Railway Station, Xi'an North Railway Station, Xi'an South Railway Station

On the following Google map, you can see the location of the Xihoudu Historical Site (the blue icon) and the Huaxin International Hotel (the yellow hotel bed icon) which is our recommended hotel nearby. Zoom out of the map to see the location of the Fairfield by Marriott Xi'an North Station and the Angsana Xi'an Lintong Hotel which are our recommended hotels in the city center of Xi'an as well as to the east of Xi'an. Further below on this page, you can read a review of the services and amenities of all three of these hotels. In case you are planning a trip to China, you could support this website by using the provided affiliate links to check prices and book your hotel accomodation!



Agoda Affiliate BadgeYou can book hotels in China with both of our affiliate partners Agoda and Trip.com. No matter whether you choose Agoda or Trip.com, you will find many offers on each of these platforms that will allow you to make a risk-free booking with the possibility of free cancellation until a clearly stated date and time, sometimes as late as on the intended date of arrival. However, some deals require prepayment and don't permit cancellation without fees. In that case, the incurred cancellation fees are clearly stated.

When following an Agoda link, the search results will show you prices, availability and special offers for your chosen dates with the recommended hotel in the top search position as well as for other hotels in the same area. Links to Trip.com will take you to the specific hotel webpage where you can then search for availability, prices and special deals with your chosen dates.

The provided information was thoroughly researched from various hotel booking websites. Chinese History Digest is not responsible if any information regarding the provided services and amenities might have changed.

Recommended Hotel near the Holy Fire Lit Place and Mount Hua

The Huaxin International Hotel that is reviewed below is our recommended hotel near the Holy Fire Lit Place. By following the links below, you can make a booking for this 4-star hotel on Trip.com. At a driving distance of about 27 miles, the Huaxin International Hotel is about a one-hour drive away from the Holy Fire Lit Place. That makes it the closest 4 or 5-star hotel to this remotely located tourist attraction. Staying at this hotel in the city of Huayin has several noteworthy benefits. First of all, the shortest driving route from Xi'an to the Holy Fire Lit Place along the G30 highway runs through Huayin.

Secondly, tourists that don't have access to a car could take a high-speed train from the Xi'an North Railway Station to the Huashan North Railway Station which is situated less than 2km away from the Huaxin International Hotel. There is even a free shuttle bus between hotel and railway station (or bus station). The shuttle bus is parked at the taxi waiting area straight ahead of the railway station exit and you need to call the driver at least 20 minutes before your expected arrival (the driver's phone number is included among the information you receive after booking the hotel online). The journey time from Xi'an to Huayin by high-speed train is only about 30 minutes and there are frequent trains throughout the day. After checking in at the hotel in Huayin, tourists could then either rent a car or a taxi to travel the rest of the way to the Holy Fire Lit Place. The Huaxin International Hotel provides a taxi booking service and its staff can arrange car rentals as well.

Thirdly, staying at the Huaxin International Hotel is also very convenient for travellers that plan to visit Mount Hua and the Huashan National Park since the Huashan Visitor Center lies only around 6.5km away from this popular hotel.

Huaxin International Hotel

view of the facade of the Huaxin International HotelThe Huaxin International Hotel is a 4-star hotel that is located in the city of Huayin to the east of Xi'an. The hotel is not far away from the city center of Huayin (about 1.3km) and there are other places of interest nearby such as the Xiyue Temple (about 0.8km away). Many travellers that stay at this hotel use it as a base for their multi-day exploration of all the attractions of Mount Hua amidst the Huashan National Park such as the East Taoist Temple. As already mentioned above, visiting the Xihoudu Historical Site on a day trip by car/taxi from here is quite convenient as well. The Huaxin International Hotel first opened its doors in 2012. In 2018, it was fully renovated. Guests that arrive at the hotel by car have access to free secured parking. The hotel also arranges transfer to and from the Xi'an Xianyang International Airport for an extra fee of 800 yuan per way.

The rooms of the Huaxin International Hotel are air-conditioned and equipped with a refrigerator, minibar and in-room safe. Free Wi-Fi is available in designated areas of the hotel. Smoking is not allowed in the hotel's public areas with the exception of a special designated smoking area. Non-smoking rooms can be requested and many of the hotel's 120 rooms are family rooms. Laundry service (including dry cleaning) and free luggage storage are available. Most room rates already include breakfast which can also be purchased separately. The hotel has an on-site restaurant that caters to the culinary needs of its guests and there is also a bar in the lobby.

27 miles away from the Holy Fire Lit Place

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Recommended Hotel near Xi'an North Railway Station

The Fairfield by Marriott Xi'an North Station that is reviewed below is the closest hotel to the Xi'an North Railway Station. This station is one of the most important transportation hubs in China. Most trains that pass through this station are high-speed trains. The Fairfield by Marriott Xi'an North Station therefore is the ideal place to stay for travellers that prefer to make the city of Xi'an their base of exploration and one day go on a day trip by train and taxi to see the Holy Fire Lit Place from there. In addition to the links to Agoda that are used in the review below, this hotel is also available for booking on Trip.com by following this link.

Fairfield by Marriott Xi'an North Station

nighttime view of the facade of the Fairfield by Marriott Xi'an North StationThe Fairfield by Marriott Xi'an North Station which lies only about 1.3km (less than 20 minutes to walk) to the south of the Xi'an North Railway Station was opened in 2019. One of the main benefits of staying at this mid-range hotel is convenient access to public transportation with the Beiyuan Metro Station being the closest subway station nearby (about 640 meters away). As far as Xi'an's tourist attractions are concerned, the hotel lies only a short walk of about 2.1 kilometers away from the Tomb of Emperor Jingdi (Hanyangling). Other places of interest in this area of Xi'an include the beautifully-landscaped Xi'an City Sports Park, the Xihang Theater and the Double One Bengchuang Theme Park that is popular with children. Free parking is available outside the Fairfield by Marriott Xi'an North Station. A taxi ride to the Xi'an Xianyang International Airport from here typically takes about half an hour and the hotel provides a taxi booking service (but no airport shuttle service of its own though).

The 137 rooms of the Fairfield by Marriott Xi'an North Station provide both air-conditioning and heating and are equipped with a refrigerator and flat-screen TV (with satellite channels). Free Wi-Fi is available in all rooms as well as in the public areas of the hotel. However, smoking is not permitted anywhere on its premises, neither in any of the rooms nor in the public areas. Free luggage storage is available. Breakfast is provided in the style of a buffet for a fee of 68 yuan per person if not already included in the room rate. The hotel has a restaurant and a coffee shop that cater to the culinary needs and desires of its guests. For exercise, hotel guests have access to a fitness center on site.

0.8 miles away from Xi'an North Railway Station

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Recommended Hotel near the Terracotta Warriors Museum

The Angsana Xi'an Lintong Hotel that is reviewed below is the closest 5-star hotel to the Museum of the Terracotta Warriors and Horses and the Huaqing Hot Springs to the east of Xi'an. Staying at this luxurious hotel is also very convenient for travellers that plan to make the two-hour drive (about 140km) east to see the Holy Fire Lit Place in Ruicheng County on one of the days during their stay in Xi'an. That is because the Angsana Xi'an Lintong Hotel lies very close to the G30 highway which leads east towards Huayin. In addition to the links to Agoda that are used in the review below, this hotel is also available for booking on Trip.com by following this link.

Angsana Xi'an Lintong Hotel

outside view of the Angsana Xi'an Lintong HotelThe Angsana Xi'an Lintong Hotel is about a 40 - 50 minute drive away from the Xi'an Xianyang International Airport and the hotel can arrange airport transfer (for an additional charge). It is the only 5-star hotel within relatively close proximity of the Huaqing Hot Springs which are just a 5 - 10 minute walk away. In fact, guests of this luxurious resort that opened in 2014 are just a short distance away from three major tourist sites in Xi'an's vicinity. That is because the Angsana Xi'an Lintong Hotel is also close to Emperor Qinshihuang's Mausoleum Site Museum (which includes the Museum of the Terracotta Warriors and Horses) as well as the Lintong Museum. Since the hotel rents bicycles, guests could even combine their tourist visits within the green and relatively unpolluted Lintong area with some physical exercise.

All rooms of the hotel are air-conditioned, have a terrace/balcony and contain a refrigerator, satellite TV, safe box, a DVD/CD player and a minibar. Both smoking and non-smoking rooms exist and can be requested. Laundry service (including dry cleaning) and luggage storage are available. Room service is available 24/7 and free bottled water is provided. Free internet access is not only available through Wi-Fi but also LAN cable in the rooms. The hotel has a breakfast buffet and its two restaurants offer Chinese and international cuisine. For exercise, guests have access to a swimming pool, tennis court and a fitness center. There are also many ways to relax at the Angsana Xi'an Lintong Hotel, such as at the hotel's spa, hot spring bath, by having a massage or outside at the hotel's garden.

5.9 miles away from the Terracotta Warriors Museum

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