The foundations of the palaces of Kublai Khan are being explored in Hohot and there is now a sketch of the layout of the capital. Xanadu, also spelled Shangdu, was the summer capital of Kublai Khan’s Yuan Dynasty in China, after he decided to move the capital of the Yuan Dynasty to Dadu, present-day Beijing.
In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree:
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea
Samuel Taylor Coleridge claimed that the poem was inspired by an opium-induced dream but that the composition was interrupted by a person from Porlock. This is a great yarn but pretty unlikely. It was probably written during several visits to Exmoor and the vision of the man from Porlock may also have been opium-induced.
Now Chinese archaeologists in Hohot have sketched out the layout of the first capital of Kublai Khan’s empire, known as Xanadu in Marco Polo’s Travel Notes, through a large-scale excavation. The ruins of Xanadu (Shangdu) in the Zuolan Banner in North China’s Inner Mongolia have been overgrown but will now be a great attraction.
Yang Xingyu, a senior archaeologist with the Inner Mongolia regional bureau of cultural relics, said, "The most exciting findings are the layout of moat in front of the Mingde Gate to the royal capital and the highest building of Muqingge in the three-month long excavation on the ruins of Yuan Shangdu."
The capital Shangdu was built in 1256 under the command of Kublai Khan, the first emperor of Yuan Dynasty, who was enthroned there four years later. It became a summer resort after the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368) moved its capital to present-day Beijing in 1276, and was destroyed during a peasant war at the end of the dynasty.
Italian traveler Marco Polo (1254-1324) described the prosperity of Yuan Shangdu in his book, although whether he went there in reality or imagination is a matter for debate.
The regional government has submitted an application for World Cultural Heritage status for the site.
China View shows that the website of the World Heritage Site confirms the historical remains at Yuan Shangdu has been part of China’s tentative list.