When you think about Ancient China, you’re going to immediately think of the various dynasties that ruled the territory at one time or another. It should be no surprise that each of these dynasties had its strength it different regions. Thus, the capital cities of China moved according to the stronghold of the ruling dynasty. Here, I take a look at capital cities of China before Beijing.
Former Capitals of China Before Beijing
Xianyang: The First Capital of China
Xianyang, established by the Qin dynasty in 221 BC, was the first capital of China. It was located in Shaanxi province and served as the capital during the Qin dynasty’s reign, which unified the warring states of China. Here you would have found the grand palace, which covered an area of 8.6 square kilometers and was home to the Qin dynasty’s emperor. The palace was known for its impressive architecture, including the Hall of Supreme Harmony, which was the largest building in the palace complex. Xianyang was also home to a vast number of art treasures, including the world-renowned Terracotta Army, which was discovered in 1974.
Chang’an: The City of Eternal Peace
Chang’an was established by the Han dynasty and remained the capital for over 400 years. Located in Shaanxi province, it was the political, cultural, and economic center of China during the Han dynasty. It was famed for its grand architecture, including the world-renowned Terracotta Army. The city was also home to the famous Silk Road, which was a vital trade route that connected China to the rest of the world. Chang’an was known for its cosmopolitan culture, which was influenced by the various cultures and religions that passed through it.
Daxing: The City of Grandeur
During the Sui dynasty, Daxing in Hebei province became the capital, which lasted for over 20 years. The city was known for its grandeur, which was reflected in its massive palace complex. The Grand Canal, built during the Sui dynasty, also passed through the city, providing a vital transportation route for centuries. Daxing was also home to several notable landmarks, including the Lotus Terrace, which was a massive, elevated platform decorated with flowers and trees.
Luoyang: Eastern Capital
Luoyang in Henan province was the capital of the Tang dynasty for over 200 years. It was known for its grand architecture, including the Longmen Grottoes, which are a UNESCO World Heritage site. It was also home to several significant cultural and religious landmarks. This included the White Horse Temple, which was the first Buddhist temple in China. Its role as the eastern capital helped it develop a unique cultural identity that blended influences from the east and west.
Kaifeng: The City of Prosperity
In 907 AD, the Later Liang dynasty established Kaifeng in Henan province as the capital. It became the capital for subsequent dynasties, including the Song dynasty. We also know the city for its prosperity, which was reflected in its grand architecture. This included the Iron Pagoda, which still stands as a testament to its rich history. Kaifeng was also a center for science and technology. The famous astronomer and mathematician Shen Kuo making significant contributions during the Song dynasty.