Feuilleton 343 — Like the Emperor of China Andreas Augustin

Feuilleton 343 — Like the Emperor of China

( words)

Digging into China — in a secret tunnel below Renmin Square, Xi'an.

Andreas Augustin presents

The spacious seat of ancient civilisation, which we call China, has loomed always so large to Western eyes. But only the last half of the 13th century threw Asia open to Western travellers to a degree unknown before. The vast wave of Tartare conquest, set in motion by Jenghiz Khan, had swept away all political barriers, from the China Sea to the Western frontier of Russia.
Encyclopedia Britannica 1898

Night descending, captured by Austro-Canadian star photographer Bill Lorenz.

Practically in the Eye of the Hurricane or: A Sense of Size

Imagine all this within the same complex of buildings — there is a wedding with 500 guests at the Sofitel Xian convention centre, in the theatre a famous personality addresses 1400 people, at the two Sofitel Xian hotel buildings and at the Grand Mercure and the Mercure over 900 beds are occupied. In the gardens, the occasional visitor poses for a photograph next to a 1200 year old tree. While all this happens, you sit at the People’s Grand Hotel, practically in the eye of the hurricane, and all you experience is serenity, calmness and peacefulness.

Brilliant scene, captured by Austro-Canadian star photographer Bill Lorenz. Two butleresses caught in action.

‘... A very great and fine city it is, and the capital of the kingdom of Quengianfu*, which in old times was a noble, rich, and powerful realm. It is a very great town of great trade 
and great industry. ‘ 
Marco Polo (1324) 
* Quengianfu is one of the historic names of Xi’an. 


Butler line up — style of service at the People's Grand Hotel.


This book introduces you to Qin Shi Huang, the  first emperor, who unified diverse state bastions into one single fortification, which today we call the Great Wall of China. He ordered the construction of a city-sized mausoleum guarded by a life-sized terracotta army of - we are still guessing - some thousand soldiers. However, he buried them all, and so nobody knew. And those who knew were buried too. Alive. Qin Shi Huang – the Emperor of China, would feel very much at home at the People's Grand Hotel Xi'an. It is a palace.

The book takes you to the  ’Forest of Steles’, the oldest museum on earth, initially established in 1087 AD, when some precious stone steles were moved here for safe keeping, including the ‘Classic on Filial Piety’ written by Emperor Xuanzong in 745 AD and the original ‘Book of Changes’ – one of the earliest published works of mankind and ‘the Analects of Confucius’.

It takes you on the Silk Road and introduces you to the early travellers, of which Marco Polo wasn't the first but certainly the most popular. We talk about the city walls of the Ming Dynasty, the spectacular finding of the Terracotta Soldiers and the development of tourism and - finally - about the opening of the People’s Grand Hotel Xian, the most famous hotel of the region. The architect of the hotel, Hong Qing (1913–1979), was so famous, that he was invited to participate in the construction of the Memorial Hall of Chairman Mao.

This is the story of inspiring moments at the grand hotel in the heart of the city of Xi’an, and the wonderful people who operate it.


Samuel Baker: This is one of the best and most beautifully illustrated works of The Most Famous Hotels in the World Library of books. Visit

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