Yuan Zhongdu National Archaeological Site Park
Location:Zhangbei county, Zhangjiakou city, Hebei province
Hours:9 am-5 pm
General admission: 30 yuan ($4.63)
The Yuan Zhongdu site is the remains of one of the four capitals of the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368) of China (known as the Middle Capital in Chinese), and is located 15 kilometers to the north of the Zhangbei county, in North China's Hebei province.
During the Yuan Dynasty, this location was a key transportation and military area connecting the deserts in the north, the Western Regions, and the Central Plains of China.
Yuan Zhongdu was built in 1307 by Khayishan Külüg Khan (r. 1307-1311), Emperor Wuzong of Yuan, who was the grandson of Kublai Khan. It was the third largest capital in the Yuan Dynasty, after Dadu and Shangdu. Its political status, size, economy and culture enjoyed great reputations in the world at that time. Only 50 years later, however, the palace was burned down by the Red Turban Rebellions, an uprising force of the late Yuan Dynasty. Its short existence provides an intuitive reference for people to understand the ephemeral history of the Yuan Dynasty.
Yuan Zhongdu is composed of three layers, an inner, a middle and an outer city. The inner city is rectangular in plan and has a circumference of 2,360 meters. The central city covers an area of about 800,000 square meters outside the inner city.
The palace buildings of Yuan Zhongdu were designed according to the central axis layout, with the main palace group being centered on the palace on the No.1 Base Site, which serves as the main hall, located in the center of the inner city. Its surface is covered with glazed tiles, rain drainage components and ornamental bricks. The carved white marble heads of "Chi" (hornless dragon) unearthed here were exquisitely carved and are regarded as some of the finest stone carvings of the Yuan Dynasty.
The Yuan Zhongdu site provides a new example for the study of the shape and structure of the capital of the empire, being of great value in archaeology, ancient architecture and history.The site became the first national archaeological site park of Hebei province in 2017 and is now open to the public.