China is a country steeped in tradition, with a history that stretches back thousands of years. From the Great Wall to the Terracotta Army, this country is full of historically significant monuments. But it is not just the monuments that are symbolic of specific moments in history - it is the cities themselves. Here are the three most historically significant cities in China, each of which had a big influence in helping China to become the country it is today.


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Without Yan'an, modern China as we know it might not exist. Currently home to an amazingly diverse group of Chinese citizens, Yan'an was once the place in which communist forces regrouped after the historic Long March. This march was essentially a 6,000-mile trek in which the communists moved from the southeast to the northwest of China. It ended in Mao Zedong becoming the official party leader after the communists spent their entire trek fending off Nationalist soldiers. This city is also the home of the tomb of the Yellow Emperor, who is said to be the ancestor of every single Chinese person in existence. This emperor is said to have begun China's "five-thousand-year history," making Yan'an an extremely important site!


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Walking the streets of Xi'an, you could almost imagine that you are taking a stroll through history. Much of the city has remained unchanged since it became the first imperial capital of China between 221 and 206 B.C., during the Qin era. It also made up the eastern end of the Silk Road, a trade route that linked China and the Mediterranean in ancient times, and was the capital of both the Western Han and Tang dynasties (from 206 B.C. to 9 A.D. and from 618-907 A.D. respectively). This city is one of the most visited sites in China and is home to the fabled Terracotta Army in the tomb of the Qin Emperor. It also boasts the second most famous wall in China, the Xi'an City Wall, which originally kept the city walled in and isolated, but now serves as a divider between the inner and outer parts.


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The undisputed winner for the most historically significant city in China is Beijing. It has been the imperial capital for much of the last 1,000 years and is home to some of China's most important sites, including the Great Wall of China and the Forbidden City. It is one of the best preserved of the four ancient cities of China, and is known as the "cradle of humanity." It was built over 3,000 years ago and has been the capital for many of China's most important dynasties, including the Liao, Jin, Ming and Qing dynasties. Unfortunately, during World War I, Beijing was heavily damaged. Many of the royal residences were robbed of their treasures and burned to the ground. This ushered in a very dark period in the history of China as a whole, but when the People's Republic of China was founded on October 1, 1949, things began to get better. Beijing became the official capital of this new and more prosperous country, and has become one of the most important cities in all of Asia.