Xidi was originally called Xichuan (West River) because of the streams that pass through it, but its present name, which means West Post, comes from the ancient caravan posting station some 1.5 km to the west of the village. Xidi Village is located in the southeastern part of Yixian County and has over 300 simple, yet graceful, Ming and Qing dynasty residences, of which 124 are well preserved.
The more grandiose residential buildings are dignified with the title of "hall". Each house has white walls with elaborately shaped eaves and courtyards, the latter of which are paved with green flagstone or colorful pebbles arranged into various designs. Most of the buildings have carved beams and painted rafters, small courtyards with winding paths and corridors, miniature trees and rockeries. The halls are tastefully furnished and decorated with various couplets, calligraphic scrolls and antiques. An outstanding feature of Xidi is that there are many couplets written on scrolls in the village. Some are exquisitely carved, painted or gold-plated on wooden boards or bamboo slabs and hung on pillars in the main halls. Narrow alleys join the main streets and there are small open spaces in front of the public buildings, such as the Hall of Respect, the Hall of Reminiscence, and the Memorial Archway of the Governor.
Typical structures in Xidi include a pailou to the residence of the Qing prefectural governor Hu Wenguang, the Ruiyu Courtyard, the Taoli (peaches and plums) Garden, the Dafu Grand House (home of a senior official in feudal society), and Lingyun Tower.
Together with Hongcun it was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000. Here below are the descriptions on the official site of UNESCO:
"The two traditional villages of Xidi and Hongcun preserve to a remarkable extent the appearance of non-urban settlements of a type that largely disappeared or was transformed during the last century. Their street plan, their architecture and decoration, and the integration of houses with comprehensive water systems are unique surviving examples".