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Huaqing Pools

Huaqing Pools, Xian ToursAt the northern foot of Li Shan Mountain, 30 kilometers east of Xi'an, is Huaqing Pools (or Huaqing Hot Springs), where water from hot springs is funneled into public bathhouses where over 100 pools can accommodate 4000 people. It has been a tourist attraction known in China since the ancient times.

Huaqing Hot Springs are tucked away among green pines and cypresses and embellished with lake, halls, pavilions, towers and kiosks, which are linked by twisting corridors and paths. According to the history records, these hot springs were discovered in the Zhou Dynasty (11th century BC- 256BC). From the dynasty and its successive dynasties some villas and palaces were built. In the Tang Dynasty, a palace named Huaqing Palace was built there and hence the pool named.

Huaqing Pools, Xian ToursThe most romantic story that accompanies the history of the springs is that of the Chinese equivalent of Romeo and Juliet, the story of the Tang Dynasty Emperor Xuan Zong and his concubine Yuhuan Yang (concubine is pronounced "Guifei" in Chinese Pinyin, therefore she is also called Yang Guifei.). Yang was a poor girl who the Emperor took a fancy to and promoted to the position of "lady". Legend has it that he was so enamored by her beauty that it distracted him from his daily work. The empire was being threatened and the courtiers threatened to kill the concubine, blaming her for the emperor's mismanagement of his nation. Desperate and madly in love, Yang hung herself to save the country and her lover's reputation. The springs were renamed the Huaqing Pool or "the Fair" springs, in honor of Yang's beauty.

At the mountainside of Lishan, there is a pavilion marks the spot and there's a simple inscription 'Chiang Kai-shek was caught here'. At the summit of the mountain are beacon towers built for defense during the Han dynasty (206BC - 220AD), and there is a temple on the mountain dedicated to the 'Old Mother' Nu Wa who created the human race and even patched up cracks in the sky after a catastrophe.

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