Huaqing Hot Springs

Huaqing Hot Spring
Huaqing Hot Springs is situated at the foot of Lishan Hill, 30 kilometers east of the city of Xi'an. Because of the natural hot spring, it became a famous scenic spot as far back as the western Zhou Dynasty, 27 centuries ago. In the Western Zhou Dynasty King You drove his slaves to the Lishan Hill to construct the Li Palace for him, so that he could stay away from his capital to enjoy himself with his beloved concubine, Bao Si. In history, construction of buildings was undertaken in Zhou, Qin, Han and Tang dynasties, with that in the Tang Dynasty as the most flourishing. The palace built in the Tang Dynasty was named Huaqing Palace, hence the present name-Huaqing Hot Springs.

Huaqing Hot Springs is best known for the fact that Concubine Yang, a favorite of Emperor Xuanzong's, was given the privilege to take bath in it. The Royal Concubine Pool is said to be the very bathing pool in which Yang steeped in old days. Today when we get there, we can also see the relics of the Palace of Eternal Youth which has been unearthed in recent years and on display in a museum in the Hot Springs. The Palace of the Eternal Youth is the very building where most of the romance between Emperor Xuanzong and Concubine Yang took place. Bai Juyi, a famous poet of the Tang Dynasty, made references to this Palace and the tragedy of the royal couple in his poem "The Song of Eternal Sorrow".

Huaqing Hot Springs has not only been a famous scenic spot since ancient times, but is also the place where the well-known Xi’an Incident in modern Chinese history took place.

Huaqing Pool was destroyed at the end of the Tang Dynasty and what is open to the public is only a small part of the original site. And all the constructions we see today were rebuilt in 1959 according to the architectural style of the Tang Dynasty.

The Forest-flying Hall
This magnificent building is called Forest-flying Hall. Emperor Xuanzong and his favorite Concubine Yang used to make their home here in winter since it was very cold in the capital Chang’an. It was said that the steam from the hot spring pool in front of the hall went straight up and turned into frost when it met the cold air from the sky. The frost, flying in the wind overhead, looked very beautiful. Therefore the hall was named the Frost-flying Hall.

The Nine-dragon Pool
How did the pool get this name? A legend has it that long, long time ago the Central Shaanxi Plain was once stricken by a severe drought. Knowing this, the Jade Emperor ordered eight young dragons and an old dragon come down to make rain here. And the disaster did abate. Then the dragons slacked off at their job and the drought became serious again. Knowing this, Jade Emperor burst into fury. Then he had the young dragons kept under the Jade Causeway to spout the clear water all year round for the local irrigation. He also had the old dragon confined under the bottom of the waterside pavilion as the supervisor.

The Xi'an Incident
Climb the steps east of the source of the hot springs, and you will gradually see the Five-room Hall where Chiang Kai-shek stayed temporarily during "the Xi'an Incident".

"The Xi'an Incident" took place in December 12, 1936. It is also known as the "Double Twelve Incident". After the "Incident of September 18, 1936", the Japanese imperialists seized the three provinces in northern China, and intensified their invasion efforts in the North of China. This was a very vital time for the Chinese nation. Yet Chiang Kai-shek persisted in carrying out policy "domestic stability is a must for the resistance against the Japanese invaders". He commanded the Northeast and the Northwest Armies, headed by Zhang Xueliang and Yang Hucheng, to attack the Shaanxi-Gansu-Ningxia border region. Inspired by the Chinese Communist Party's policy "stop the civil war and unite to resist the Japanese aggressors", these two generals put forward to Chiang Kai-shek the proposal of forming a united front with the Communist Party for the resistance drive. Out of patriotism, Zhang and Yang started the famous "Xi'an Incident".

Early on the morning of December 12, 1936, their plan began. Zhang Xueliang, together with Yang Hucheng, ordered a squad of body guards to surround the Huaqing Pool. They fought a fierce battle there, and wiped out Chiang's bodyguards in one vigorous effort. Chiang Kai-shek heard the gunshots and he was so terrified that he crept out of a window in his nightgown and slippers. He staggered up the Lishan Hill, and hid himself, halfway up, behind a stone in a crevice. Those brave soldiers began to search the hill immediately after they had came into the Five-room Hall and found that Chiang's hat and clothes were still there and that his quilt was still warm. At 8:00 in the morning they found Chiang, and escorted him to Xi'an.

In order to avoid a civil war and try to establish a united national front for the resistance against Japan, Mao Zedong, on behalf of the Chinese Communist Party Central Committee, stood for a peaceful settlement of the incident. Therefore, a delegation headed by Zhou Enlai was sent to Xi’an at the invitation of Mr. Zhang and Mr. Yang. Zhou Enlai and his delegate did a lot of work there and took everything possible into consideration. Ultimately Chiang Kai-shek was forced to accept the proposal made by his two generals. On December 25, Chiang was released, and flew to Nanjing. Consequently "Xi'an Incident" was settled peacefully.

The peaceful settlement of "Xi'an Incident" put an end to the civil war which had lasted for years, and accelerated the formation and development of the National United Front for the Resistance against Japan. Moreover, it is a new page of the cooperation between the Communists and Nationalists and marked a great turning point in modern Chinese history.

The Remonstration Pavilion
In 1946, the Nationalist Government had the "National Rejuvenation Pavilion" built near the crevice where Chiang Kai-shek had hidden himself during the Incident. It was then called "the Justice Pavilion". After the national liberation in 1949 it was renamed "the Catching-Chiang Pavilion". Now it has the name of "the Remonstration Pavilion". Iron chains and rings are available all the way up to the crevice east of the pavilion by which visitors can climb up to take a look at Chiang Kai-shek's shelter.

The Beacon Tower
It is said that in the Western Zhou Dynasty, on the peak of every mountain there was a beacon tower built. Whenever the enemy came, the soldiers would make signals by burning the wolf's droppings to seek help from other vassal states. Why were Wolf's droppings used? It is said that when Wolf's droppings were burnt, their smoke went straight up to the sky, and people could see it from a long way off.

King You had a palace built in the Huaqing Hot Springs, and a beacon terrace on the top of the Lishan Hill. The king had a favorite concubine named Bao Si. Though she was very beautiful, she always wore a sad face and never smiled. King You became very much worried. One day, one of his ministers suggested that the beacon be lit to make joke of other vassal states to make Bao Si smile. Sure enough the trick worked well. At the sight of the signal, the soldiers of other vassal states hurried to the foot of Lishan Hill. They were wet through with sweat and out of breath, but when they find they were deceived, dismay fell on everyone. Bao Si was amused to see them mortified and gave a clod smile. The king was delighted. Later the joke was repeated several times. But the day came when a real danger threatened him. King You had the beacon fire lit again, but the vassal states thought that the king was playing the same trick again to invite his concubine’s smile. So nobody came to his rescue. Therefore, the Zhou Dynasty was defeated and the king was killed. Hence the Chinese saying "the regime was ended with a smile of the fatal beauty and “The sovereign rulers are fooled by the beacon fire".

The Museum of the Imperial Pools
In the Tang Dynasty, pools were made in the palace where there were hot springs. But those pools were destroyed due to the rebels at the end of the dynasty. In 1982, when a construction work was on the way, the ruins of the imperial pools of the Tang Dynasty Huaqing Palace were discovered by accident. Excavation and the references from the historical records proved that the ruins included five pools once used in the Tang Dynasty: the Star Pool, the Lotus Flower Pool, the Crabapple Pool, the Crown Prince Pool and the Shangshi Pool, that is, the pool for the logistical personnel. In 1990, the Museum of the Imperial Pools, modeling the Tang architectural style, was built at the site of the ruins.

Opening Hours: 09:10 - 17:00

Admission Fee: CNY 40 (Dec. 1- the next end of Feb.)
                              CNY 70 (Mar. 1-Nov. 30)