Daming Palace

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Daming Palace National Heritage Park
Reconstructed Danfeng Men.jpg
The reconstructed Danfeng Gate, housing and conserving the on-site ruins of the original gate of the Daming Palace [1]
Established1 October 2010
LocationXi'an, Shaanxi, China
Coordinates34°17′29″N 108°57′34″E / 34.29139°N 108.95944°E / 34.29139; 108.95944
TypeArchaeological site and history museum
Daming Palace
Simplified Chinese大明宫
Traditional Chinese大明宮
Literal meaningPalace of Great Brilliance [2]
Daming Palace National Heritage Park
Simplified Chinese大明宫国家遗址公园
Traditional Chinese大明宮國家遺址公園

The Daming Palace was the imperial palace complex of the Tang dynasty, located in its capital Chang'an.[3][4] It served as the imperial residence of the Tang emperors for more than 220 years.[3] Today, it is designated as a national heritage site of China,[5] and part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site "Silk Roads: the Routes Network of Chang'an-Tianshan Corridor". The area is located northeast of present-day Xi'an, Shaanxi Province.[6]


The palace was originally known as Yong'an Palace but was renamed to Daming Palace in 635.[7][8] In 662, after renovations to the palace, it was renamed Penglai Palace.[7][8] In 670, it was renamed Hanyuan Palace[8] or Yuan Palace.[7] Eventually, in 701, the name was changed to Daming Palace again.[7][8]


The former royal residence was the Taiji Palace (太極宮), built in the previous Sui dynasty.[9]

In 632, chancellor Ma Zhou charged that the retired Emperor Gaozu was living in Da'an Palace (大安宮) to the west, which he considered an inhospitable place as it was built on low-lying lands of Chang'an that was plagued by dampness and heat during the summer.[10] According to him, ever since Emperor Taizong moved to the countryside during the summers, his retired father was left behind in Chang'an to suffer in the summer heat.[10] However, his father would always decline any invitation from Emperor Taizong to spend the summer together.[10] Ever since the bloody palace coup of the Xuanwu Gate Incident in 626, it seemed that father and son had drifted apart to an extent that their relationship never healed.[10]

In 634, Emperor Taizong launched the construction of the Daming Palace at Longshou Plateau.[11][12] He ordered the construction of the summer palace for his retired father, Emperor Gaozu, as an act of filial piety.[13] However, Emperor Gaozu grew ill and never witnessed the palace's completion before his death in 635,[10] and construction halted thereafter.

Empress Wu commissioned the court architect Yan Liben to design the palace in 660 and construction commenced once again in 662.[13] In 663, the construction of the palace was completed under the reign of Emperor Gaozong.[14] Emperor Gaozong had launched the extension of the palace with the construction of the Hanyuan Hall in 662, which was finished in 663. On 5 June 663, the imperial family began to relocate from the Taiji Palace into the yet to be completed Daming Palace,[15] which became the new seat of the imperial court and political center of the empire.[8][15][16]

Layout and function[edit]

Map of ruins
Hanyuan Hall's platform

Beginning from the south and ending in the north, on the central axis, stand the Hanyuan Hall, the Xuanzheng Hall, and the Zichen Hall.[7] These halls were historically known as the "Three Great Halls" and were respectively part of the outer, middle, and inner court.[7] The central southern entrance of the Daming Palace is the Danfeng Gate.[1] The gate consisted of five doorways.[17]

The present site covers more than 4,800 mu, making it 3.5 times more expansive than the Forbidden City, 3 times more than Versailles, and 13 times more than the Louvre.[18]

Outer court[edit]

Hanyuan Hall's platform

After passing through the Danfeng Gate, there is a square of 630 meters long with at the end the Hanyuan Hall.[19] The Hanyuan Hall was connected to pavilions by corridors, namely the Xiangluan Pavilion in the east and the Qifeng Pavilion in the west.[7][20] The pavilions were composed of three outward-extending sections of the same shape but different size that were connected by corridors.[20] The elevated platform of the Hanyuan Hall is approximately 15 meters high, 200 meters wide, and 100 meters long.[6] The Hanyuan Hall, where many state ceremonies were conducted, would serve as the main hall for hosting foreign ambassadors during diplomatic exchanges.[6]

Middle court[edit]

The Xuanzheng Hall is located at a distance of about 300 meters north of the Hanyuan Hall.[7] State affairs were usually conducted in this hall.[21] The office of the secretariat was located to the west of the Xuanzheng Hall and the office of the chancellery was located to the east.[22] From this area, structured in a Three Departments and Six Ministries system, the Department of State Affairs, the Chancellery, and the Secretariat handled the central management of the Tang empire.[22]

Inner court[edit]

Model of the Linde Hall
Linde Hall's platform

The Zichen Hall, located in the inner court,[22] is approximately 95 meters north of the Xuanzheng Hall.[7] It housed the central government offices.[23] For officials, it was considered a great honor to be summoned to the Zichen Hall.[22] The Taiye Pool, also known as the Penglai Pool, is north of the Zichen Hall.[24] The former gardens that surround the pond and island have been recreated, based on the historical record, with peony, chrysanthemum, plum, rose, bamboo, almond, peach, and persimmon gardens.[25]

The Linde Hall is located to the west of the lake.[23] It served as a place for banquets, performances, and religious rites.[26] It consisted of three halls—a front, middle, and rear hall—adjacent to each other.[26] An imperial park could be found north of the palace complex.[23] The Sanqing Hall was located in the northeast corner the Daming Palace and served as a Taoist temple for the imperial family.[23][24]


The area around the palace complex grounds is currently planted with locust trees, willows, flowers, and bushes on all sides.[25]


Stone inscription discovered in 1956 that commemorates the building of the Hanguang Hall (含光殿) and a polo field in the Daming Palace in 831.

The site of the Daming Palace was discovered in 1957.[27] Between 1959 and 1960, the earliest surveys and excavations of the Hanyuan Hall site were carried out by the Institute of Archaeology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.[20]

Preventive conservation measures of the Hanyuan Hall site began in 1993.[6] From 1994 to 1996, for the restoration and preservation of the site, numerous surveys and excavations were conducted.[20] The State Administration of Cultural Heritage (SACH) and UNESCO drew up and adopted a two-phased plan by 24 July 1995 to safeguard the Hanyuan Hall site.[6][27] Work on the project started in 1995 by the joint effort of the Chinese government, Chinese and Japanese institutes, UNESCO, and various specialists.[28] Most of the conservation work concluded in 2003.[6][28]

On 1 October 2010, the Daming Palace National Heritage Park was opened to the public.[29] There are many exhibition halls located throughout the site of the palace complex to showcase the excavated cultural relics of the site.[7]


See also[edit]

  • Huang Chao, whose revolt caused the destruction of the palatial complex


  1. ^ a b "Site of Danfeng Gate". ICOMOS International Conservation Center. Archived from the original on 23 April 2015. Retrieved 7 January 2012.
  2. ^ Chung, Saehyang. "A Study of the Daming Palace: Documentary Sources and Recent Excavations". Artibus Asiae, Vol. 50, No. 1/2 (1990), pp. 23–72. Accessed 15 November 2013.
  3. ^ a b Yu, Weichao (1997). A Journey into China's antiquity. Beijing: Morning Glory Publishers. p. 56. ISBN 978-7-5054-0507-3.
  4. ^ "Stories of Daming Palace". China Daily. p. 2. Retrieved 7 January 2012.
  5. ^ Wang, Tao; Shao, Lei (2010). "Eco-city: China's realities and challenges in urban planning and design". In Lye, Liang Fook; Chen, Gang (eds.). Towards a liveable and sustainable urban environment: Eco-cities in East Asia. Singapore: World Scientific. p. 149. ISBN 978-981-4287-76-0.
  6. ^ a b c d e f Du, Xiaofan (2010). Agnew, Neville (ed.). Conservation of ancient sites on the Silk Road. Hellman, Naomi (trans.). Los Angeles: Getty Conservation Institute. p. 37. ISBN 978-1-60606-013-1.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Daming Palace". ChinaCulture.org. Ministry of Culture of the People's Republic of China. Archived from the original on 1 December 2015. Retrieved 18 December 2011.
  8. ^ a b c d e "Daming Palace Site". Cultural China. Archived from the original on 12 June 2015. Retrieved 18 December 2011.
  9. ^ "Birth of fantasy". Daming Palace. Episode 1. 7 minutes in. China Central Television. CCTV-9. Archived from the original on 24 January 2012. Retrieved 7 January 2012.
  10. ^ a b c d e Wenchsler, Howard J. (1979). "The founding of the T'ang dynasty: Kao-tsu (reign 618–26)". The Cambridge history of China, Volume 3: Sui and T'ang China, 589–906, Part 1. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 186. ISBN 0-521-21446-7.
  11. ^ Chen, Jack W. (2010). The poetics of sovereignty: On Emperor Taizong of the Tang Dynasty. Cambridge: Harvard University Asia Center. p. 275. ISBN 978-0-674-05608-4.
  12. ^ Kiang, Heng Chye (1999). Cities of aristocrats and bureaucrats: The development of medieval Chinese cityscapes. Singapore: Singapore University Press. p. 7. ISBN 978-9971-69-223-0.
  13. ^ a b "The missing ancient architectures Part 3- Eternal regrets of the Daming Palace". China Central Television. Archived from the original on 22 January 2012. Retrieved 21 December 2011.
  14. ^ Fuller, Michael A. (1990). The road to East Slope: The development of Su Shi's poetic voice. Stanford: Stanford University Press. p. 30. ISBN 978-0-8047-1587-4.
  15. ^ a b "Birth of fantasy". Daming Palace. Episode 1. 24–26 minutes in. China Central Television. CCTV-9. Archived from the original on 24 January 2012. Retrieved 7 January 2012.
  16. ^ "Conference 'Daming Palace and the Tang Dynasty'". Oxford Archaeology. Retrieved 18 December 2011.
  17. ^ "Archaeologists find ancient palace gate". ABC News. 4 December 2005. Retrieved 7 January 2012.
  18. ^ "The Palace of Palaces". english.china.com. Retrieved 21 June 2021.
  19. ^ "Birth of fantasy". Daming Palace. Episode 1. 26 minutes in. China Central Television. CCTV-9. Archived from the original on 24 January 2012. Retrieved 7 January 2012.
  20. ^ a b c d Hanyuan Hall of Daming Palace, Beijing: UNESCO Beijing Office, 1998
  21. ^ "Birth of fantasy". Daming Palace. Episode 1. 37 minutes in. China Central Television. CCTV-9. Archived from the original on 24 January 2012. Retrieved 7 January 2012.
  22. ^ a b c d "Birth of fantasy". Daming Palace. Episode 1. 39–41 minutes in. China Central Television. CCTV-9. Archived from the original on 24 January 2012. Retrieved 7 January 2012.
  23. ^ a b c d "Daming Palace". AncientWorlds LLC. Archived from the original on 4 December 2008. Retrieved 18 December 2011.
  24. ^ a b "Original site of Daming Palace". China Daily. Retrieved 7 January 2012.
  25. ^ a b China Daily. "Brief Introduction of Daming Palace National Heritage Park". 2010. Accessed 15 November 2013.
  26. ^ a b "Linde Hall". Cultural China. Archived from the original on 3 May 2010. Retrieved 18 December 2011.
  27. ^ a b "Empress of the dynasty". Daming Palace. Episode 3. 49–51 minutes in. China Central Television. CCTV-9. Archived from the original on 26 January 2012. Retrieved 19 December 2011.
  28. ^ a b "Hanyuan Hall of the Daming Palace of the Tang Dynasty, China". Permanent Delegation of Japan to UNESCO. Retrieved 18 December 2011.
  29. ^ "Daming Palace preservation project". China Daily. Retrieved 7 January 2012.