Khanbaliq or Dadu (also Ta-Tu or Daidu) refers to a city which is now Beijing, the current capital of the People's Republic of China. The city was called Dadu or Ta-Tu (大都, pinyin: Dàdū, Wade-Giles: Ta-tu), meaning "great capital" or "grand capital" in Chinese, the name for the capital of the Yuan Dynasty founded by Kublai Khan in China, and was called Daidu by the Mongols, which was a transliteration directly from the Chinese. It is known as Khanbaliq (汗八里), also spelled as Khanbalikh in Turkic languages, meaning "Great residence of the Khan", and Marco Polo wrote of it as Cambaluc, Cambuluc, or Kanbalu.
Under the name Zhongdu (中都, "central capital", pinyin: Zhōngdū) the city had earlier served as the capital of the Jin Dynasty, but was burned down in 1215 by Mongol forces. In 1264, in preparation to establish the Yuan Dynasty, Kublai Khan decided to rebuild this city to the northeast of the old city as his new capital. The original architect and planner of the capital was Liu Bingzhong, who also served as the supervisor of its construction, and one of the overseers of the construction was Yeheidie'erding (Igder, or Ikhtiyar, al-Din). The construction of the walls of the city began in the same year, while the imperial palace was built from 1274 onwards. The design of Dadu followed the Confucian classic Zhouli (周禮, "rites of Zhou"), in that the rules of “9 vertical axes, 9 horizontal axes”, “palaces in the front, markets in the rear”, “left ancestral worship, right god worship” were taken into consideration. It was broad in scale, strict in planning and execution, complete in equipment.
After the establishment of the Yuan Dynasty in 1271, Khubilai Khan renamed the city Dadu (大都, "great capital", or Ta-tu in Wade-Giles) in 1272, and it officially became the capital of the Yuan Dynasty, though some constructions in the city were not completed until 1293. The previous seat of Khubilai Khan, Shangdu, became the summer capital of the Yuan. During the reign of Khubilai Khan, Venetian merchant Marco Polo arrived at Dadu and Shangdu, where it is said that he served Khubilai Khan for seventeen years.
In 1368, Zhu Yuanzhang, soon after declaring himself the first emperor of the Ming Dynasty in Nanjing, sent an army toward Dadu, still held by the Yuan. The last Yuan emperor fled north to Shangdu, and Zhu Yuanzhang razed the Yuan palaces in Dadu to the ground.
After the fall of the Yuan Dynasty in 1368, the city was renamed Beiping (北平, pinyin: Běipíng, Wade-Giles: Pei-p'ing) by the Ming Dynasty in the same year, and Shuntian (順天) prefecture was established in the area around the city. After the enthronement of Yongle Emperor of Ming Dynasty, he extended the city and commissioned the building of the Forbidden City within the walls of the Imperial city of Yuan's Dadu. He renamed the city to Beijing (北京, pinyin: Běijīng, ‘Peking’, or Pekin in other romanizations), which continues to the present day - except for a short time in Republican China where it was again known as Beiping. Remains of parts of the ancient walls of Dadu, which lie slightly to the north of the later Ming Dynasty walls, are still extant in modern-day Beijing and are known as the Tucheng (土城, literally, the 'earth wall').
Later history of the name 
Despite the capture of the city by the Ming who subsequently changed its name, the name Dadu or Daidu remained in use among Mongols  who had retreated north for at least a period of time after the fall of the Yuan Dynasty in 1368. The lament of the last Yuan emperor (Toghun Temur Khan), concerning the loss of Dadu and Shangdu, is recorded in many Mongolian historical chronicles such as Altan Tobchi and Asarayci neretu-yin teuke, which wrote of the city as Daidu.
Khanbaliq also remained the standard name for the Chinese capital in Persian and in the Turkic languages of Central Asia and the Middle East for quite a long time. It was, for example, the name used in both the Persian and Turkic versions of Ghiyāth al-dīn Naqqāsh's account of Shah Rukh's envoys' mission to the Ming capital (1419-1422), which for over two centuries thereafter remained one the most detailed and best read accounts of China in these languages.
When in the 16th century Western European travelers reached China via Malacca and South China, they were not initially aware that China is the same country as "Cathay" about which they had known from Marco Polo, or that the "Cambalu" of Marco Polo's fame is Beijing. It was not until Matteo Ricci's first visit in Beijing (1598), and his meetings with Central Asian visitors ("Arabian Turks, or Mohammedans", in Louis J. Gallagher's translation) who told him that the city they are in is "Cambalu", that he became fully convinced that Cathay was China and Cambalu was Beijing. The learned Jesuit even folk-etymologized the name "Cambalu" as being "partly of Chinese and partly of Tartar origin". According to Ricci's fanciful etymology, "Cam" (Khan?) meant "great" in "Tartar language", "Ba" came from Chinese bei (北), "north", and "Lu" was the usual way of referring to the "Tartars" in Chinese books. Despite Jesuits' reports about the identity of Cathay and China, and Cambalu and Beijing, many European maps continued to show "Cathay", with its capital "Cambalu", located somewhere northeast of China proper, for much of the 17th century.
See also 
- Rossabi, Morris, Khubilai Khan: His Life and Times, p 131
- Herbert Franke, John K. Fairbank (1994). "Alien Regimes and Border States". The Cambridge History of China 6 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press). p. 454.
- George Lane, Genghis Khan and Mongol Rule, p 198
- Stephen G. Haw, Marco Polo's China, p61
- China archaeology and art digest, Volume 4, Issues 2-3. Art Text (HK) Ltd., original from the University of Michigan. 2001 (Digitized 2009). p. 35.
- Steinhardt, Nancy Riva Shatzman (1981). Imperial architecture under Mongolian patronage: Khubilai's imperial city of Daidu. Harvard University. p. 222. "The planning of the Imperial City, along with many other imperial projects of the 1260's, was supervised by Khubilai's close minister Liu Bingzhong. That the Imperial City was Chinese in style was certainly Liu's preference..."
- Stephen G. Haw (2006). Marco Polo's China: a Venetian in the realm of Khubilai Khan. Routledge. p. 69. ISBN 0-415-34850-1. "Liu Bingzhong was also charged with overseeing the construction of the Great Khan's other new capital, the city of Dadu."
- People's Daily Online: The Hui ethnic minority
- The New Encyclopædia Britannica (Encyclopædia Britannica, Chicago University of, William Benton, Encyclopædia Britannica), p 2
- Ebrey, Patricia Buckley. The Cambridge Illustrated History of China. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999. ISBN=0-521-66991-X
- Susan Naquin, Peking: Temples and City Life, 1400-1900, p xxxiii
- Beijing This Month - Walk the Ancient Dadu City Wall
- Holder of the White Lotus, Alexander Norman, Little,Brown, ISBN978-0-316-85988-2
- The Mongol empire & its legacy, by Reuven Amitai-Preiss, David Morgan, pg277
- Bellér-Hann., Ildikó (1995), A History of Cathay: a translation and linguistic analysis of a fifteenth-century Turkic manuscript, Bloomington: Indiana University, Research Institute for Inner Asian Studies, pp. 3–6,140, ISBN 0-933070-37-3. E.g., Xān bālïǧ in the Romanized transcription of the ca. 1497 Turkic text.
- Trigault, Nicolas S. J. "China in the Sixteenth Century: The Journals of Mathew Ricci: 1583-1610". English translation by Louis J. Gallagher, S.J. (New York: Random House, Inc. 1953) of the Latin work, De Christiana expeditione apud Sinas based on Matteo Ricci's journals completed by Nicolas Trigault. Book four, Chapter 3, "Failure at Pekin", pp. 312-313. There is also full Latin text available on Google Books.