Today’s Birthday: Baron Georges-Eugène Haussmann

Baron Haussmann was born on  March 27, 1809 in Paris, France. Napoleon III selected him to build new parks, boulevards and buildings for the city.  Haussmann was forced out for extravagance (!), but his planning created the City of Lights we all love. In his honor I am reprinting the post I wrote after we visited Xi’an, China. – Jadi

This is a real road in Xi’an

This week’s post is about one of the more remarkable roads I’ve ever strolled. The street is in Xi’an, home of one of the world’s best preserved, still-intact, walled cities. We’re big fans of places listed on the UNESCO World Heritage Site, and Xi’an is on Chinese and international lists as a cultural treasure.

This however is not a city street. This ‘boulevard’ is actually on top of Xi’an’s city walls
From atop the wall with a bird’s eye view

It’s an old capital city located at the end of the Silk Road. The rampart walls were built in the 14th century by Emperor Zhu Yuanzhang as part of his military defenses and enclose 8.7 square miles, or roughly 14 square kilometers. [1]

The walls were made first with tamped earth and ‘with the base layer including also lime and glutinous rice extract’. [2] A century later they were reinforced with blue bricks. The original walls used to include a moat and drawbridges. These walls are so thick that in WWII, Xi’an’s residents built a thousand bunkers inside the base to protect them from the bombs of Japanese air raids!

They are a breathtaking 12 meters or 39 feet high. It takes four hours to walk them. Actually, it takes longer than that if you’re Uwe and Jadi, because you never know what’s down the road. On our visit (foolishly booked during China’s Golden Week when all 1.3 billion Chinese citizens were also on vacation) we discovered a festival performance taking place inside one of the courtyards.

We heard it before we saw it. Drums, lots of drums…

And men in costume. Enter, Stage Left.

Or was that Enter, Stage Right?

What tickles me most about the walls is that once you’re on them, you could be on a wide boulevard anywhere in the world. Except that this is China, and this isn’t a boulevard…. It’s a wide street located on top of Xi’an’s city walls. Travel doesn’t get any better than this.

In memory of Baron Haussmann, 27 March 1809 – 11 January 1891

NOTES: [1] The current fortified city walls were constructed on an earlier, Tang dynasty palace wall. [2] travelchinaguide ©Jadi Campbell 2018. Previously published as Xi’an’s Boulevard. All photos © Uwe Hartmann. To see more of Uwe’s photos and pics from our trips go to

My books are Broken In: A Novel in Stories, Tsunami Cowboys, Grounded, and The Trail Back Out

Tsunami Cowboys was longlisted for the 2019 ScreenCraft Cinematic Book Award. The Trail Back Out was honored as 2021 IAN Book of the Year Award Short Story Collection Finalist for the Independent Author Network, and American Book Fest 2020 Best Book Award Finalist: Fiction Anthologies. The title story The Trail Back Out was longlisted for the 2021 ScreenCraft Cinematic Short Story Award. Broken In: A Novel in Stories was a semifinalist for the international 2020 Hawk Mountain Short Story Collection Award from Hidden River Arts, and named a Finalist for Greece’s international 2021 Eyelands Book of the Year Award (Short Stories).

Click here for my author page to learn more about me and purchase my books.

3 thoughts on “Today’s Birthday: Baron Georges-Eugène Haussmann”

  1. Great post Jadi. It brought back so many memories. We rented bikes and rode the city walls. What an amazing place it is. I think Xi’an is one of the best places we visited in China – so much there to appreciate.

    1. Uwe had visited a few decades ago, before the terracotta army became a must-see for the world. He no longer recognized the site as they’re now excavating so much further. Despite the unbelievable crowds everywhere I was blown away by Xi’an. Those city walls have to be walked to grasp how huge they are. We found a dumpling shop that made just one traditional dish with a variety of fillings: all were delicious. And the new part of the city was like visiting a futuristic movie set. PS: I assume your bike rental shop was located on the top of the walls, right?!

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