Hidden Gems in Xian – Huaqing Palace and Lishan Mountain

Xian made its name in the world because of the over 2000-year-old terracotta warriors and horses buried with the first emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang. Numerous travelers came to Xian for this world-class historical relic site every year. However, not many of them know that there is an amazing place full of stories and just about 10 kilometers away from the Terracotta Warriors and Horses Museum. Some don’t bother to check it out even if they know. Then you will miss out on really beautiful scenery and interesting history of China. Lishan Mountain and Huaqing Palace are well worth a visit on your Xian tour.

Lishan Mountain is located in the south of Lintong District, Xian City. It is a branch of the Qinling Mountains with an altitude of 1302 meters. The mountain gains its name Lishan because it looks like a galloping black horse from a distance. Since ancient times, it has witnessed a lot of history. In the late Western Zhou Dynasty, to please his favorite concubine named Bao Si, King You repeatedly lit the beacon fire to fool the feudal lords and finally had himself killed when the real danger came; in the flourishing period of the Tang Dynasty, Emperor Xuanzong and gorgeous Lady Yang had some happy years here until her tragic death under the pressure of the rebels; on December 12, 1936, two Kuomintang generals imprisoned Chiang Kai-shek on the mountain and forced him to end the civil war and cooperate with the Communist Party to fight against the Japanese invaders. You can get a good tour guide to show you around the scenic spots such as Armed Exhortation Pavilion, Beacon Tower, and Laomu Palace, and explain the history behind them. If you have limited time or are not physically strong enough to climb up the mountain, there is also a cable car to take you to the top. If you visit the mountain on a sunny day and you are not in hurry, you can wait to see the spectacular sunset. The stunning scenery will definitely take your breath away. You will also have chance to experience the most beautiful winding road in Shaanxi Province. The road is very famous among cycling enthusiasts and people who like self-driving travel.

At the foot of Lishan Mountain is the impressive Huaqing Palace. It is one of the oldest royal gardens in China. It was originally built in the early Tang Dynasty and reached its peak after Emperor Xuanzong came to power. The emperor came here every October with his concubine Yang Yuhuan and went back to the capital Chang’an at the end of the year. After An-Shi Rebellion, few emperors visited this palace. Although some maintenance was done in later dynasties, it never returned to its glorious days. Wandering around the garden, you will feel like time traveling. Frost Flying Hall that once served as the bedroom of the emperor and Lady Yang cannot be missed. Its romantic name comes from the fact that in winter days, snowflakes around the hall immediately turned into rimes before falling on the ground due to the warm vapor rising out of the spring water. You can see that the emperor really loved Lady Yang. The Chinese poem A Song of Everlasting Sorrow by the brilliant poet Bai Juyi of the Tang Dynasty tells the heart-touching love story between the two persons. Now you can enjoy a wonderful night show based on the poem at the very place where the story happened 1200 years ago.

All in all, Lishan Mountain and Huaqing Palace totally deserve your time, money and energy with fantastic scenery and so much history. If you plan to visit Xian in the future, you can consider combining the Terracotta Warriors with the two fascinating sites. Welcome to Xian after the quarantine is over.