Visit Guide to Yuanshangdu Relic Site

Also known as Shangdu or mythical Xanadu, this site was the former capital of the Western Xia Kingdom during the Yuan dynasty (1279–1368) and was later Kublai Khan’s summer residence. Much of the city has been lost to time but archaeological remains include portions of the city walls, palaces and temples. The site was listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 2012.

Getting There

Zhenglan Banner (Zhenglanqi or just Lanqi) is the gateway town to Yuanshangdu Relic Site, accessed by taxi or private car.


Yuanshangdu dates back to the 13th century when the Western Xia established its capital there. The city served as a political, economic, and cultural centre, witnessing the rule of several Western Xia emperors.

The city was eventually conquered by Chinggis Khan’s grandson, Kublai Khan, who moved his capital to Beijing and made Shangdu his summer palace. A museum on site houses several scale models that give an insight into the vast size of the ancient city.

Famed traveller Marco Polo visited the area in 1275 and described it in his accounts. And under the name ‘Xanadu’, the site took on almost legendary qualities thanks to English poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge, who, in 1797, used it as inspiration for the poem Kubla Khan.