The Site of Xanadu in Inner Mongolia

By Candice SongUpdated Mar. 18, 2021

As a key cultural relics unit under China's state protection, the site of Xanadu served as the summer capital of the Yuan Dynasty during the 13th and 14th centuries; it is a combined product of the farming culture of China's Central Plains and the nomadic culture of north China, and it rivals Pompeii of Italy in its historical value. The site of Xanadu was listed on the World Heritage List by UNESCO on June 29th, 2012.

Initially known as the Kaiping Prefecture, Xanadu was built in the 6th year (1256) of Emperor Xuanzong’s reign and was renamed Shangdu by Genghis Khan's grandson Kublai Khan in 1271 in the Yuan Dynasty; it was where the emperors escaped from the heat and conducted state affairs along with their senior officials each summer.

Xanadu has a perimeter of 9 kilometers, is 2,115 kilometers long from north to south and 2.05 kilometers wide from east to west, and it’s composed of the Court City, the Imperial City and the Outer City.

The Court City is brick-structured with watchtowers at its four corners, where the main architectural buildings include the Crystal Palace, Great Joy Palace (Hongxi Palace), Solemnity and Serenity Pavilion (Muqing Pavilion) and Great Peace Pavilion (Da’an Pavilion), with the river water diverted into the pool of the city. The stone-structured Imperial City surrounds the Court City, whose government office area is in the south, Qianyuan Temple is in the north-east and Longguang Huayan Temple is in the north-west.

In the north-east of the Imperial City lies the Outer City, with an imperial garden in the north and the imperial workshops in the south. The east, west and south neighborhoods outside of the Outer City are markets, stores and civilian residences. However, Xanadu was greatly damaged due to unceasing wars during the Ming Dynasty, leaving only crumbling walls and ruined curbs for the later generations to ponder over and dream about. The site of Xanadu has been open to the public since July 15, 2011.

Location: Xilingol League of Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, 460 kilometers away from Beijing ( 8 hours' drive), and 560 kilometers far from Hohhot, the capital of Inner Mongolia.
Opening Hours: 6:00am to 8:00pm

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