Technology aids city wall preservation, boosts tourism


Ancient Walls, Modern Marvels: How Tech is Transforming Cultural Heritage in China

Imagine this: tourists bundled in winter clothes, marveling at the snow-capped majesty of the Xi’an City Wall, a historical landmark preserved for centuries. This powerful image, captured by a drone in January 2024, beautifully embodies the confluence of China’s rich heritage with the transformative power of technology.

The Enduring Legacy of the Xi’an City Wall

Xi’an boasts a crown jewel – the Xi’an City Wall. Dating back over 600 years, it’s the largest and best-preserved ancient city wall in China. Originally built on remnants of Sui and Tang dynasty structures, this architectural marvel served as a robust military defense system. Its grandeur is evident in its 14-meter width at its peak, adorned with intricate watchtowers and crenels.

Safeguarding the Past for the Future

Despite its resilience, the Xi’an City Wall has endured uneven settlement over time, causing cracks and bulges in sections. The challenge lies in preserving this legacy while ensuring its integration into modern city life. This quest for innovative solutions led to the integration of advanced technologies.

Tech as the Guardian of History

Under the leadership of Assistant Director Su Ning, a comprehensive monitoring system was implemented. Over 3,000 points along the 13.74 km wall track even the slightest movements, empowering experts to address potential issues proactively. Additionally, a network of over 1,000 cameras provides real-time monitoring of visitor flow, moat water levels, and security concerns. This data is consolidated at a central information center, where color-coded alerts guide conservation efforts efficiently.

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A groundbreaking development occurred in 2023 with the introduction of muon imaging technology. This innovative approach, pioneered by Lanzhou University, allows for non-invasive, high-precision scans of the wall’s interior, enabling a shift from reactive repairs to preventative measures.

Enriching the Visitor Experience

Technology has transformed how visitors experience the Xi’an City Wall. A dedicated app offers historical insights into key attractions and helps locate perfect photo spots. At the south gate, a captivating 3-square-meter digital sand table brings the Tang Dynasty city of Chang’an to life with stunning visuals. Virtual tours of archaeological research museums within the Wall offer remote visitors a glimpse into the region’s past.

A Digital Renaissance for Cultural Heritage

The Xi’an City Wall’s digital embrace exemplifies China’s dedication to revitalizing cultural heritage preservation and tourism. Director Zhao Bin emphasizes the power of digital tools in fostering public interest in history and culture. With over 8.5 million visitors in 2023, the success story is undeniable.

As China embraces a national cultural digitization strategy, the Xi’an City Wall paves the way for future collaborations with academic institutions and enterprises. This harmonious blend of ancient wonder and modern technology ensures the Xi’an City Wall remains a beacon of cultural heritage protection and innovation in China.