Khanbaliq or Dadu of Yuan () was the Historical capitals of China, winter capital of the Yuan dynasty founded by Kublai Khan in what is now Beijing, also the capital of China today. It was located at the center of modern Beijing. The Zhongshu Sheng, Secretariat (中書省) directly administered the Central Region () of the Yuan Empire (comprising present-day Beijing, Hebei, Shandong, Shanxi, and parts of Henan and Inner Mongolia) and dictated policies for the other provinces. Kublai and his successors also Khagan, claimed supremacy over the entire Mongol Empire following the death of Möngke Khan (Kublai's brother and predecessor) in 1259. Over time the unified empire Division of the Mongol Empire, gradually fragmented into a number of khanates. Khanbaliq is the direct predecessor to modern Beijing, and sections of Line 10, Beijing Subway, Line 10 and Line 13, Beijing Subway, Line 13 have stations honoring the gates of Dadu.


The name Khanbaliq comes from the Mongolian language, Mongolian and Old Uyghur words ''khan (title), khan'' and ''balik'' ("town", "permanent settlement"): "City of the Khan". It was actually in use among the Turks and Mongols ''before'' the fall of Zhongdu, in reference to the list of Jurchen emperors, Jin emperors of China. It is traditionally written as Cambaluc in English, after its spelling in Rustichello of Pisa, Rustichello's Il Milione, retelling of Marco Polo's travels. The ''Travels'' also uses the spellings Cambuluc and Kanbalu. The name Dadu is the pinyin transcription of the Chinese name , meaning "Grand Capital". The Mongols also called the city Daidu, which was a transliteration directly from the Chinese. In Standard Chinese, modern Chinese, it is referred to as Yuan Dadu to distinguish it from other cities which have similar names.


Zhongdu, the "Central Capital" of the Jurchens, Jurchen Jin dynasty (1115–1234), Jin dynasty, was located at a nearby site now part of Xicheng District. It was destroyed by Genghis Khan in 1215 when the Jin court began contemplating a move south to a more defensible capital such as Kaifeng. The Imperial Mint () established in 1260 and responsible for the printing of jiaochao, the Yuan fiat money, fiat history of Chinese currency, paper money, was probably located at nearby Yanjing even before the establishment of the new capital.Vogel, Hans. ''Marco Polo Was in China: New Evidence from Currencies, Salts, and Revenues''
p. 121
Brill, 2012. Accessed 18 November 2013.
In 1264, Kublai Khan visited the Daning Palace on Jade Island in Taiye Lake and was so enchanted with the site that he directed his capital to be constructed around the garden. The chief architect and planner of the capital was Liu Bingzhong, who also served as supervisor of its construction. His student Guo Shoujing and the Hui people, Muslim Yeheidie'erding, Ikhtiyar al-Din were also involved. The construction of the walls of the city began in the same year, while the main imperial palace () was built from 1274 onwards. The design of Khanbaliq followed several rules laid down in the Confucius, Confucian Chinese classics, classic ''The Rites of Zhou'', including "9 vertical and horizontal axes", "palaces in front, markets in back", "ancestral worship to the left, divine worship to the right". It was broad in scale, strict in planning and execution, and complete in equipment. A year after the 1271 establishment of the Yuan dynasty, Kublai Khan proclaimed the city his capital under the name Dadu although construction was not fully completed until 1293. His previous seat at Shangdu became the summer capital. As part of the Great Khans' policy of religious tolerance, Khanbaliq had various houses of worship. It even was the seat of a Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Khanbaliq from 1307 until its 1357 suppression. It was restored in 1609 as (then) Diocese of Peking. The Hongwu Emperor of the Ming dynasty sent an army to Dadu in 1368. The last Yuan emperor fled north to Xanadu while the Ming razed the palaces of their capital to the ground. The former capital was renamed Beiping (北平 "Pacified North") and Shuntian Prefecture was established in the area around the city. The Hongwu Emperor was succeeded by his young grandson the Jianwen Emperor. His attempts to rein in the fiefs of his powerful uncles provoked the Jingnan Rebellion and ultimately his usurpation by his uncle, the Prince of Yan#Ming Empire, Prince of Yan. Yan's powerbase lay in Shuntian and he quickly resolved to move his capital north from Yingtian (Nanjing) to the ruins at Beiping. He shortened the northern boundaries of the city and added a new and separately walled southern district. Upon the southern extension of the Taiye Lake (the present Nanhai), the raising of Jingshan Park, Wansui Hill over Yuan ruins, and the completion of the Forbidden City to its south, he declared the city his northern capital Beijing. With Beiping, one brief interruption, it has borne the name ever since.


Ruins of the Yuan-era walls of Khanbaliq are still extant and are known as the Tucheng (), lit. "earth wall". Tucheng Park preserves part of the old northern walls, along with some modern statues. Despite the capture and renaming of the city by the Ming dynasty, Ming, the name ''Daidu'' remained in use among the Mongols of the Mongolia-based Northern Yuan dynasty. The lament of the last Yuan emperor, Toghon Temür, concerning the loss of Khanbaliq and Shangdu, is recorded in many Mongolian historical chronicles such as the ''Altan Tobchi'' and the ''Asarayci Neretu-yin Teuke''.Amitai-Preiss, Reuven & al. ''The Mongol Empire & Its Legacy'', p. 277. ''Khanbaliq'' remained the standard name for Beijing in Persian language, Persian and the Turkic languages of Central Asia and the Middle East for quite a long time. It was, for instance, the name used in both the Persian and Turkic versions of Ghiyāth al-dīn Naqqāsh's account of the 1419–22 mission of Shahrukh Mirza, Shah Rukh's envoys to the Ming capital. The account remained one of the most detailed and widely read accounts of China in these languages for centuries. When European travelers reached China by sea via Malacca and the Philippines in the Age of Exploration, 16th century, they were not initially aware that China was the same country as the "Cathay" about which they had read in Il Milione, Marco Polo nor that his "Cambaluc" was the city known to the southern Chinese as Beijing, Pekin. It was not until the Jesuit missions in China, Jesuit Matteo Ricci's first visit to Beijing in 1598 that he encountered Central Asian visitors ("Arabian Turks, or Mohammedans" in his description) who confirmed that the city they were in was "Cambaluc." the publication of his journals by Nicolas Trigault, his aide announced to Europe that Cathay#Identifying China as Cathay, "Cathay" was China and "Cambaluc" Beijing. The journal then folk etymology, fancifully explained that name was "partly of Chinese and partly of Mongolian language, Tartar origin", from "Mongolian language, Tartar" ''cam'' ("great"), Chinese ''wikt:北, ba'' ("north"), and Chinese ''Lu'' (used for nomads in Chinese literature.Nicolas Trigault, Trigault, Nicolas.
De Christiana expeditione apud Sinas
' . Translated by Louis J. Gallagher as ''China in the Sixteenth Century: The Journals of Mathew Ricci: 1583–1610'', Book IV, Chap. 3 "Failure at Pekin", pp. 312 ff. Random House (New York), 1953.
Many European maps continued to show "Cathay" and its capital "Cambaluc" somewhere in northeast China for much of the 17th century.

See also

* History of Beijing * Names of Beijing * Shangdu * Yuan Dadu City Wall Ruins Park


{{Beijing Ancient Chinese capitals 1264 establishments in Asia 13th-century establishments in China History of Beijing Yuan dynasty Kublai Khan