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Huaqing Pools

A short drive from the famed terracotta warriors of China’s first emperor stands Li Shan, or Mount Li, one of the tallest peaks in the Qin Mountains. While some stories claim the mountain is named for its shape and the dark covering of pine and cypress trees resembling a black horse, its better claim to fame today is the natural hot springs on the northern side of Mount Li.

Visitors have come to soak in these mineral-enriched waters for their supposed curative properties since antiquity. The hot springs eventually attracted the eyes of powerful men; the first palace on the site was supposedly built by the short-reigning King You, who was overthrown by his father-in-law and allied barbarians after he dared to demote his wife in favor of a concubine. Over successive dynasties, pools and gardens and palaces were erected, most liberally by the Tang emperor Xuanzong.

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