Xanadu n : as well as a place
described in the 1980's hit of the same name, sung by Olivia Newton John;
Xanadu is a fictitious place
found in Samuel Taylor Coleridge's wonderful but incomplete poem, Kubla Khan,
which was published in 1816.
Xanadu was in fact a place called Shang Tu, the Upper Capital and summer capital of Kubla Khan
who was the founder of the great Mongol (Yuan) dynasty. It was located
about 180 miles north of Beijing. Legend has it that Kubla Khan
built a great 'garden of delights' with a hedonistic 'pleasure dome' at
the centre. It was here that soldiers were drugged and convinced
that they were waking up in paradise. This was a clever ruse used to
ensure that they would happily fight in the emperor's battles, under the
mistaken belief that eventually they would return to the decadent
'pleasure dome' forever. Coleridge and his poem helped to immortalise
Unfortunately much of Kubla Khan's life is shrouded in mystery so whether
or not such a place actually existed is purely speculative.