Sites & cities that bear the name of Shangdu


Today in : China
First trace of activity : ca. 13th century C.E
Last trace of activity : ca. 14th century C.E
Recorded names : 开平, Kaiping, Xanadu, 上都, Šandu

Description : Shangdu (Chinese: 上都; lit. 'Upper Capital', Mandarin: ), also known as Xanadu (/ˈzænəduː/; Mongolian: Šandu), was the summer capital of the Yuan dynasty of China that ruled the Mongol Empire, before Kublai decided to move his throne to the former Jin dynasty capital of Zhōngdū (Chinese: 中都; lit. 'Middle Capital'), which was renamed Khanbaliq, present-day Beijing. Shangdu then became his summer capital. It is located in the present-day Zhenglan Banner, Inner Mongolia. Venetian traveller Marco Polo described Shangdu to Europeans after visiting it in 1275. It was conquered in 1369 by the Ming army under Zhu Yuanzhang. In 1797 historical accounts of the city inspired the famous poem Kubla Khan by the English Romantic poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Shangdu was located in what is now Shangdu Town, Zhenglan Banner, Inner Mongolia, 350 kilometres (220 mi) north of Beijing. It is about 28 kilometres (17 mi) northwest of the modern town of Duolun. The layout of the capital is roughly square shaped with sides of about 2.2 km (1.4 mi). It consists of an "outer city", and an "inner city" in the southeast of the capital which has also roughly a square layout with sides about 1.4 km (0.87 mi), and the palace, where Kublai Khan stayed in summer. The palace has sides of roughly 550 m (1,800 ft), covering an area of around 40% the size of the Forbidden City in Beijing. The most visible modern-day remnants are the earthen walls though there is also a ground-level, circular brick platform in the centre of the inner enclosure. The city, originally named Kaiping (开平, Kāipíng, "open and flat"), was designed by Chinese architect Liu Bingzhong from 1252 to 1256, and Liu implemented a "profoundly Chinese scheme for the city's architecture". In 1264 it was renamed Shangdu by Kublai Khan. At its zenith, over 100,000 people lived within its walls. In 1369 Shangdu was occupied by the Ming army, put to the torch and its name reverted to Kaiping. The last reigning Khan Toghun Temür fled the city, which was abandoned for several hundred years.

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