The Oldest Garden in Xi’an—Huaqing Hot Spring

Huaqing Hot Spring, located at the north foot of Lishan Mountain, adjacent to Tongcheng District, can be called the oldest existing garden due to its long history. 2017-09-14

Huaqing Hot Spring, located at the north foot of Lishan Mountain, adjacent to Tongcheng District, can be called the oldest existing garden due to its long history. According to legend, King You of Zhou built Li Palace here 3,000 years ago; the First Emperor of Qin rebuilt it with stones and named it “Lishan Pool”; and it was expanded to become Detached Palace by Emperor Wu of Han; it was wantonly expanded in the eighteenth year of Zhenguan period (A.D. 644) of Emperor Tai of Tang and the sixth year of Tianbao period (A.D. 747) of Emperor Xuan of Tang, with changing wells to pools, building palaces around the mountain, constructing a city around the palaces, and renaming it as “Huaqing Hot Spring”. The famous poet Bai Juyi wrote “She bathed in glassy water of warm-fountain pool, which laved and smoothed her creamy skin when spring was cool” in his poem The Everlasting Regret.

In the northwest of Huaqing Hot Spring, there are Jiulong Lake and the palaces, pavilions, kiosks and corridors around the lake. Royal Spring Site Museum of Tang is in the south. The “Lotus Soup” is the place where Emperor Xuan of Tang Li Longji took baths, and “Begonia Soup” is where Princess Yang took baths. In addition, there are “Stars Soup”, “Prince Soup”, “Shang Shi Soup” and other ancillary soup pools. Thus the magnificent, rich and luxurious historical style of Tang Dynasty is displayed. Internally, the southeast part is the Central Garden Site and Five-Room Hall where Chiang Kai-shek stayed during “Xi’an Incident”. The northeast part is dotted with soup pools, and is known as the famous bathing and touring area. The scenery in the park is picturesque and pleasant, and the sparkling pool water and the weeping willow make the travelers relaxed and refreshed.

In Jiulonghu Lake Scenic Area, there are huge bridge lying over waves and willow and stones turning shores, with clear spring and sparkling lake. There are more than ten resplendent ancient buildings with carved beams and painted pillars, such as Frost Drifting Hall, Chenxiang Hall, Yichun Hall, Longyin Pavilion, Longshi Kiosk, Nine Winding Corridor, located around the lake in picturesque disorder. Among these buildings, stone cattle, stone lions, stone elephants and natural monuments are dotted side by side. Visitors will feel awakened and cannot tell whether it is in heaven or earth when visiting here.

Central Garden is also known as Huaqing Old Garden. Lotus Tower, Watching Lake Building, Flying Rainbow Bridge, Watching River Pavilion, Fei Xia Tower, Tong Yin Veranda, Chess Pavilion, Monument Pavilion and Five-Room Hall where Chiang Kai-shek stayed during “Xi’an Incident” are staggered here. After a century of trials and tribulations, the Central Garden is more primitive and elegant.

In 1959, after visiting here, Mr. Guo Moruo wrote the verse “Water in Huaqing Hot Spring is green and clear, which may surpass that in Tang Dynasty” to appropriately sum up the style and development of Huaqing Hot Spring. In recent years, the only royal hot spring community and the earliest Royal Art Institution have been excavated and unearthed in Huaqing Palace Site, where Royal Spring Site Museum of Tang and Liyuan Art Gallery in Tang have been built. The detailed cultural relics show the 6,000-year history of Bath of Huaqing Hot Spring and the 3,000-year history of royal garden, which reproduce the prevailing of Tang Dynasty. In 1998, Huaqing Hot Spring was ranked among the “100 Famous Chinese Gardens”.

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