Huaqing Hot Springs
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The Huaqing Hot Springs are located about 25 km to the east of Xi'an in the district of Lintong. Once a leisure site for the emperor and now a popular tourist attraction, the Huaqing Hot Springs occupy a large area at the foot of Mount Li. The world-famous Terracotta Warriors are located just a few kilometers away. It is possible to visit both places in one day if you start early.
The site is also known as Huaqing Pool or Huaqing Palace. The five hot spring pools at this site are collectively referred to as the Imperial Pools of the Tang Dynasty. It was indeed all the way back during the Tang dynasty, when Xi'an was still named Chang'an, that the Huaqing Palace was constructed at the site (that had already been used by older dynasties before) as a place for the emperor to relax.
The Huaqing Palace is famous in Chinese history as the location for three significant events. The first one has been immortalized in ancient Chinese poetry. It tells of the love story between Emperor Xuanzong and Yang Guifei (one of the four beauties of ancient China) who spent much time together at the Huaqing Palace. Another famous woman in Chinese history, the Empress Dowager Cixi, used the Five-Room Building at the site as a shelter when the Eight-Nation Alliance of Western powers occupied Beijing in the year 1900. The third historic event that occurred at the Huaqing Palace during the time of the Republic of China was the kidnapping of Chiang Kai-shek (who also stayed at the Five-Room Building) by the warlord Zhang Xueliang in 1936. In history, this event is now referred to as the Xi'an Incident.
The five pools at the site are named Lotus Pool, Haitang Pool, Star Pool, Shangshi Pool and Prince Pool. Emperor Xuanzong used the Lotus Pool for his private bathing and Yang Guifei used the Haitang Pool. The court officials bathed at Shangshi Pool and the children of the emperor bathed at the Prince Pool. The roofless Star Pool was used for nighttime bathing. It is not possible for visitors to bathe in the pools of this tourist sight! There are however hotels in this area with many natural hot springs that can provide this experience, for example the Huaqing Palace Resort & Spa which is located on the extended premises of the Huaqing Hot Springs.
When the emperor visited the Huaqing Palace, he would sleep at the Frost Flying Hall (a.k.a. Feishuang Hall) at the site which is said to have felt unusually warm in winter due to the geothermal activity underneath. The hall is located to the north of the Nine-Dragon Lake which occupies a large portion of the area of this tourist sight. There is also an imperial theatre nearby, the Pear Garden, where the emperor and his concubine Yang Guifei enjoyed song and dance.
Visitors nowadays also have the option to enjoy theatrical performances on-site for an extra fee. "The Song of Everlasting Sorrow" is the title of a show that is performed there every evening (except during extreme weather) between April and October. Its theme is the love story between Emperor Xuanzong and his concubine Yang Guifei. Ticket prices for this popular show range between 238 and 988 Yuan! The second show that visitors can enjoy at the Huaqing Hot Springs replays the events of the Xi'an Incident. This show is performed twice daily at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. and tickets cost 169 Yuan.