Big Goose Pagoda is one of the oldest structures in China. Originally Big Goose Pagoda consisted of a brick structure of five storeys and was about 60 meters high. First built in 589A.D.in the Sui Dynasty. Between AD 701 and AD 704 during the reign of the Empress Wu Zetian five more storeys were added to the pagoda making ten in all.
In 652 A.D. Xuan Zang made a proposal to the court for a pagoda to be constructed inside the temple, to put the scriptures and statues he had brought back from India. The Emperor happily agreed, and also collected the funds foor the building. Xuan Zang was so happy that he took part in the manual labour in the construction of the pagoda. He also took part in the design of the pagoda.
Xuan Zang was a great translator as well as a famous traveller. At the age of 28 in 627 A.D., he travelled alone to India for the learning and studying of Buddhist scriptures. He stayed there for 17 years in India. There he did research into Buddhism in various places. He returned to Chang'an in 645 A. D. with 657 volumes of Buddhist scriptures, totally travelling 50,000 kilometres and suffering much hardships. He recorded his Buddhist travel. Now this work has become an important record for the studies of the history and geograghy of the regions he had travelled. A famous novelist in the Ming Dynasty even wrote a novel about his activity on the west tour of India. The book is now one of the four most famous novels in the history of Chinese literature. Xuan Zang also translated some of the Chinese classics Lao Zi into Sanskrit to be introduced into India. He had made great contribution to the Buddhist cultural exchanges between India and China in ancient times.
Unfortunately it was damaged during World War II and reduced to seven storeys, which is as it remains today. The Big Goose Pagoda is situated in the Da Ci'en Temple, four kilometers south away from the center of the city. It is one of the city's most distinctive and outstanding landmarks, possibly the most beautiful building left in Xian today.