Zhongdu (Beijing)

Zhongdu was the northern capital for the Chin seized by Chinggis in 1215. Later Zhongdu became the Mongol capital under Qublia (Chinggis Khan’s grandson). Qublia chose Zhongdu as the capital to appease the Chinese citizens.

The streets were wide enough for nine horses to trod abreast at the same time. The Yellow River ran through the city. This river provided water to the capital. The Yellow River also provided waterway access to the interior of the Bohai Gulf. The river was not big enough to assume all of the demands of the city. Therefore, a canal of grand proportions was reconstructed. This canal allowed for larger ships and more ships carrying food and supplies to enter the city. Over  1000 miles of canal was built. Other improvements to the city included the construction of a major highway.  Villages, shops, and eateries were established along the highway which helped connect the postal relay from Tabriz to Beijing. Qubilai also employed the use of paper money, which was made in the capital.

Approximately 12,000 cavalrymen, known as the Keshikten protected the capital. Qublia used the Keshikten to enforce curfews within the city walls.  If there was a public execution, it took place outside the walls city. Spilling blood within the walls was forbidden. Burials and cremation services were also observed outside of the city walls.

The city had various separate districts to house the vast and diverse population. However most of the people lived in suburbs. The suburbs were ranged at most four miles away from the main city.

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The siege of Zhongdu, as shown in the Persian Jami’ al-Tawarikh, illustrated by Rashid al-Din Hamadani.

Qublia’s palace, called Garshi, was built of wood and he resided there during the winter. The palace was ornamented with jasper, gold, and silver. Artwork also adorned the palace. The palace had a green mount that was made from transplanted dirt. It had a pavilion and evergreen trees. The palace grounds had gardens, orchards and a lake.