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Huaqing Hot Springs

Huaqing Palace is located at the foot of Lishan Mountain, about 30 kilometers east away from Xi’an City. Lishan Mountain, with the elevation of 1,256 meters, is a extinct volcano and looks very much like a black green galloping horse from a long distance. Hence its name, Lishan Mountain. 3,000 years ago, the King of Western Zhou had a palace built against the mountain because of the hot spring at the foot of the mountain. In the 8th century BC on the top of the mountain, King You of the Western Zhou Dynasty set fire at the beacon tower and fooled his sovereign rulers in order to see a smile on the face of Baosi, his most favorite concubine. As the result, King You was killed by Quanrong (a then minority tribe) and his state was overthrown. This is a very famous story called "The Sovereign Rulers Are Fooled By The Beacon Tower" in China’s history. Accroding to the legend, Qin Shihuang, the first Emperor of the Qin Dynasty , was spat and got sores on his face because he wanted to take liberties with a fairy maiden. And then the fairy maiden forgave him and hinted him to wash his sore face in the hot spring. To his surprise, his faces become well soon. So the Hot Spring was also called "Fairy Lady Spring". This Hot Spring was the resort palace of many emperors in following dynasties. Especially, Emperor Xuan Zong (Li Longji) of the Tang Dynasty had more luxurious palaces built over the hot spring around the mountain in the period of Tian Bao (724-756 AD) and named it Huaqing Palace, which was destroyed due to wars and long time. The Huaqing Hot Spring Palace that we can see today was rebuilt on the site of the Qing Dynasty structure after 1949.

Lady Yang is one of the four most beautiful ladies in China’s history. It is said that various flowers a shame to open just because of her beauty. Lady Yang and Emperor Tang Xuanzong used to often spend their wintertime and take bath in Huaqing Spring Palace. This made the Palace famous very much. Lady Yang, originally called Yang Yuhuan, was born in 718 AD in Shuzhou. At her age of 16, she married Li Mao, the 9th son of Tang Emperor Xuanzong. In 740 AD (the 28th year of Kaiyuan period). Tang Emperor Xuanzong (her father in-law) took fancy to her and called in her in the Huaqing Palace due to the recommendation of Gao Lishi, a court enuch. Emperor Xuanzong loved her so much that he made her most favorite concubine in 745 AD. Yang Guozhong, Lady Yang’s cousin, was made chancellor and her other 3 sisters were made also Madame Hanguo, Madame Guoguo, and Madame Qiguo respectively. They sought pleasure and made merry day and night. The Emperor no longer paid attention to state affairs.

In the record of the history, the luxurious imperial bath-pools known as the Lotus Flower Pool and the Crabapple Pool were specially built by order of Emperor Xuanzong for his concubine Lady Yang to bathe in. Tang Emperor Xuangzong ordered special envoy to take lichee from Shuzhou, which was very much far away for Lady Yang within three days just for her special taste. They were intoxicated in their own pleasures and put the state affairs away. It caused the rebellion of An Lushan and made the prosperous Tang Dynasty begin to decline. In the palace, the ruins of the imperial pools of the Tang Dynasty were discovered, including the Lotus Flower Pool, the Crabapple Pool and so on. Now they have been opened to the public as Tang Dynasty Imperial Bathing Pools Museum.

The site of Xi’an incident can be seen also inside the Huaqing Palace, known as Double Twelfth incident started by General Zhang Xueliang and Xueliang and Yang Hucheng, in which Chiang Kaishek was forced to agree the proposal to fight against Japanese invaders. The Xi’an incident took place on December 12, 1936. It was a successful remonstration that laid the foundation for the second cooperative relationship between the Communists and Nationalists. Now in the palace, you can see the Five-room Hall where Chiang Kaishek stayed temporarily during the incident and the Remonstration Pavilion built near the crevice where Chiang had hidden himself. They have become the wintesses of the history.

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