Historical capitals of China
There are traditionally four historical capitals of China, collectively referred to as the "Four Great Ancient Capitals of China" (中国四大古都; 中國四大古都; Zhōngguó Sì Dà Gǔ Dū). The four are Beijing, Nanjing, Luoyang and Xi'an (Chang'an). As more new archaeological evidence began to be uncovered since the 1930s, other historical capitals have been included in the list. The phrase "Seven Ancient Capitals of China" now includes – in addition to the earlier four – Kaifeng (added in the 1920s), Hangzhou (added in the 1930s), and Anyang (added after 1988). In 2004, the China Ancient Capital Society officially included Zhengzhou as the eighth historical capital in light of new archaeological findings dating from the early Shang dynasty.
List of historical capitals of China
- Sorted in alphabetical order
- Acheng District of the city of Harbin was the capital of the Jin dynasty from 1115 to 1153. It was called Shangjing (上京; Shàngjīng; "Upper Capital") or Huining Prefecture at the time. It was destroyed in 1157 and reestablished as a secondary capital in 1173.
- Anyang was the capital of the Shang dynasty roughly from 1600 BC until 1046 BC. It was called Yin (殷; Yīn).
- Beijing (also romanised Peking), literally meaning "Northern Capital", previously also known as Beiping, was the capital of various dynasties and governments, including:
- The state of Yan (11th century BC – 222 BC) in the Spring and Autumn period, when it was called Ji (蓟; 薊; Jì).
- The Liao dynasty (907–1125), when it was a secondary capital called Yanjing (燕京; Yānjīng; "Capital of Yan").
- The Jin dynasty, from the 1160s to 1215, when it was called Zhongdu ("Central Capital").
- The Yuan dynasty (1271–1368), when it was called Dadu (大都; Dàdū; "Great Capital") in Chinese, Daidu (direct translation from Chinese) in Mongolian, and Khanbaliq ("city of the Khan") in the Turkic languages. Marco Polo called it Cambuluc.
- The Ming dynasty, from 1403 to 1644, when it was called Shuntian Prefecture (顺天府; 順天府; Shùntiān Fǔ) and then later simply as Jingshi (京师; 京師; Jīngshī; "Capital").
- The Qing dynasty, from 1644 to 1912.
- The Beiyang government of the Republic of China, from 1912 to 1927.
- The capital of the People's Republic of China since 1949.
- Changchun or (Shinjin) was the capital of Manchuria during the Japanese occupation in WWII.
- Chengdu was the capital of the state of Shu Han (AD 221–263) during the Three Kingdoms period. It was also briefly the seat of the Nationalist government of the Republic of China in late 1949 towards the end of the Chinese Civil War.
- Chongqing (also romanised Chungking) was the provisional capital of the Nationalist government of the Republic of China during the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937–1945), and briefly the seat of the Nationalist government in late 1949 towards the end of the Chinese Civil War.
- Datong was the capital of the Northern Wei dynasty from AD 398 to 493.
- Guangzhou (also romanised Canton) was the capital of:
- Hangzhou (also romanised Hangchou or Hangchow) was the capital of:
- Fenghao, located near present-day Xi'an, was the capital of the Western Zhou dynasty from 1046 BC to 771 BC.
- Kaifeng was the capital of various dynasties, including:
- The Later Liang dynasty during the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period, from AD 913 to 923.
- The Later Jin dynasty during the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period, in AD 937.
- The Later Han dynasty (AD 947–951) during the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period.
- The Later Zhou dynasty (AD 951–960) during the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period.
- The Northern Song dynasty (960–1127), when it was called Bianjing (汴京; Biànjīng).
- Luoyang was the capital of various dynasties, including:
- The Eastern Zhou dynasty, from 510 BC to 314 BC.
- The Eastern Han dynasty from AD 25 to 190 and then briefly in AD 196.
- The state of Cao Wei (AD 220–265) during the Three Kingdoms period.
- The Western Jin dynasty, from AD 265 to 311.
- The Northern Wei dynasty from AD 493 to 534.
- Wu Zetian's Zhou dynasty from AD 690 to 705.
- The Later Tang dynasty during the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period, from AD 923 to 936.
- The Later Liang dynasty during the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period, from AD 907 to 913.
- Nanjing (also romanised Nanking), literally meaning "Southern Capital", was the capital of various dynasties and governments, including:
- All the Six Dynasties from AD 220 to 589, when it was called Jianye (建業; Jiànyè) or Jiankang (建康; Jiànkāng). The Six Dynasties were:
- The Southern Tang dynasty (AD 937–976) during the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period
- The Ming dynasty, from 1368 to 1644, when it was called Yingtian Prefecture (应天府; 應天府; Yìngtiān Fǔ)
- The Taiping Heavenly Kingdom (1851–1864) during the Taiping Rebellion in the Qing dynasty, when it was called Tianjing (天京; Tiānjīng; "Heavenly Capital").
- The Nationalist government of the Republic of China from 1928 to 1937, and then de jure since 1946 (de facto from 1946 to 1949).
- The Reorganised National Government of the Republic of China (1940–1945), a pro-Japanese collaborationist government headed by Wang Jingwei during the Second Sino-Japanese War.
- Taipei has been the de facto capital of Taiwan (the Republic of China) since 1949.
- Wuhan was the capital of a government formed by Wang Jingwei and leftist members of the Kuomintang in 1927. It opposed the Nationalist government led by Kuomintang leader Chiang Kai-shek.
- Xanadu/Shangdu (上都; Shàngdū; "Upper Capital"), located northwest of present-day Dolon Nor in Inner Mongolia, was the summer capital of the Yuan dynasty. It was destroyed in 1369.
- Xi'an (also romanised Sian), previously called Chang'an, and including its surrounding areas in present-day Shaanxi Province, was the capital of various dynasties, including:
- The Western Zhou dynasty, from around 1046 BC to 771 BC. See also Fenghao.
- The state of Qin (9th century BC – 221 BC) and the Qin dynasty (221–206 BC). The Qin capital, called Xianyang (simplified Chinese: 咸阳; traditional Chinese: 咸陽; pinyin: Xiányáng), was located near present-day Xi'an. It was destroyed in 206 BC.
- The Western Han dynasty, from 206 BC to AD 9.
- The Xin dynasty (AD 9–23)
- The Eastern Han dynasty, from AD 190 to 195.
- The Western Jin dynasty, from AD 312 to 316.
- The state of Former Zhao during the Sixteen Kingdoms period, from AD 318 to 329.
- The State of Former Qin during the Sixteen Kingdoms period, from AD 351 to 385.
- The State of Later Qin during the Sixteen Kingdoms period, from AD 384 to 417.
- The Western Wei dynasty (AD 535–557)
- The Northern Zhou dynasty (AD 557–581)
- The Sui dynasty, from AD 581 to 605.
- The Tang dynasty, from AD 618 to 684, and then from AD 705 to 904.
- Ye, located within the present-day city of Handan, was the capital of the Eastern Wei dynasty from AD 534 to 550, and the Northern Qi dynasty (AD 550–577).
- Yinchuan was the capital of the Western Xia from 1038 to 1227, when it was called Xingqing (simplified Chinese: 兴庆; traditional Chinese: 興慶; pinyin: Xīngqìng).
|Dynasty / Government||Capital||Period||Notes|
|Three Sovereigns and Five Emperors||Nüwa|
|c. 2852–2737 BC|
|Shennong / Yan Emperor|| Lu|
|c. 2737–2699 BC|
|Yellow Emperor|| Xuanyuan|
|c. 2699–2588 BC|
|c. 2587–2491 BC|
|c. 2490 BC – 25th century BC|
|c. 25th century BC – 2413 BC|
|c. 2412 BC – 24th century BC|
|c. 24th century BC – 2343 BC|
|c. 2343–2333 BC|
|c. 2333–2234 BC|
|c. 2233–2184 BC|
|Xia dynasty|| Daxia|
|Yu, Qi, Taikang|
|Zhu to Jiong|
|Jin to Fa|
|Shang dynasty|| Bo|
| Foot of Mount Tai|
|Zhou dynasty||Western Zhou dynasty|| Zongzhou|
|1046 BC – 771 BC||Western capital|
|1046 BC – 771 BC||Eastern capital|
|Eastern Zhou dynasty|| Chengzhou|
|770 BC – 367 BC|
|367 BC – 256 BC||capital of the Western Zhou dynasty|
|367 BC – 249 BC||capital of the Eastern Zhou dynasty|
|Qin dynasty|| Xiquanqiu|
|– 677 BC|
|677 BC –|
|– 383 BC|
|383 BC – 250 BC|
|350 BC – 207 BC|
|Han dynasty||Western Han dynasty|| Luoyang|
|202 BC – 200 BC|
|200 BC – 8 BC|
|Xin dynasty|| Chang'an|
|Han dynasty||Eastern Han dynasty|| Luoyang|
|Three Kingdoms period||Cao Wei|| Luoyang|
|Shu Han|| Chengdu|
|Eastern Wu|| Jianye|
|Jin dynasty||Western Jin dynasty|| Luoyang|
|Eastern Jin dynasty|| Jiankang|
|Northern dynasties||Northern Wei|| Pingcheng|
|534–550||capital of Eastern Wei|
|535–557||capital of Western Wei|
|Northern Qi|| Ye|
|Northern Zhou|| Chang'an|
|Southern dynasties||Liu Song dynasty|| Jiankang|
|Southern Qi|| Jiankang|
|Liang dynasty|| Jiankang|
|Chen dynasty|| Jiankang|
|Sui dynasty|| Dongdu|
|Tang dynasty|| Chang'an|
|Wu Zetian's Zhou dynasty|| Luoyang|
|Tang dynasty|| Chang'an|
|Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period||Later Liang|| Dongdu|
|Later Tang|| Dongdu|
|Later Jin|| Dongjing|
|Later Han|| Dongjing|
|Later Zhou|| Dongjing|
|Song dynasty||Northern Song dynasty|| Dongjing|
|Southern Song dynasty|| Nanjing|
|1127–1129||After the fall of Dongjing, Zhao Gou declares himself Emperor Gaozong in Henan|
|1129–1130||Flight of Emperor Gaozong during the Jin invasion of the Yangtze Delta in 1129–1130.|
|Off the coast Taizhou, Wenzhou|
|1130–1276||Song court settles in Lin'an for 146 years|
|1276–1277||Flight of Emperor Duanzong along the southeast coast following the fall of Lin'an in 1276.|
|Emperor Bingzong succeeds Duanzong on Lantau Island in modern Hong Kong|
|1278–1279||Song court makes last stand off the coast of Yashan|
|Liao dynasty|| Shangjing|
|Jin dynasty|| Shangjing|
|Western Xia|| Xingqing|
|May 1264 – 1267|
|1267 – August 1368|
|August 1368 – 1369|
|Ming dynasty|| Nanjing|
|23 January 1368 – 2 February 1421|
|2 February 1421 – 25 April 1644|
|1644 – 1645|
|1645 – 1646|
|1646 – 25 April 1662|
|Later Jin|| Feiala|
|1619 – September 1620|
|September 1620 – April 1621|
|April 1621 – 11 April 1625|
|11 April 1625 – 1636|
|Qing dynasty|| Shengjing|
|1636 – 30 October 1644|
|30 October 1644 – 12 February 1912|
|Republic of China|| Nanjing|
|1 January 1912 – 2 April 1912||Provisional Government|
|2 April 1912 – 30 May 1928||Beiyang government|
|30 May 1928 – 29 December 1928||Beiyang government|
|1 July 1925 – 21 February 1927||Guangzhou Nationalist Government|
|21 February 1927 – 19 August 1927||Wuhan Nationalist Government|
|18 April 1927 – 20 November 1937||the Nanjing decade|
|29 Jan 1932 – 1 December 1932|
|9 September 1930 – 23 September 1930||Beiping Nationalist Government|
|23 September 1930 – 4 November 1930||Beiping Nationalist Government|
|28 May 1931 – 22 December 1931||Guangzhou Nationalist Government|
|21 November 1937 – 5 May 1946||during the Second Sino-Japanese War|
|30 March 1940 – 10 August 1945||Wang Jingwei Government|
|5 May 1946 – Present (de jure) (de facto until 23 April 1949)|
|23 April 1949 – 14 October 1949||during the Chinese Civil War|
|14 October 1949 – 30 November 1949||during the Chinese Civil War|
|30 November 1949 – 27 December 1949||during the Chinese Civil War|
|27 December 1949 – 27 March 1950||during the Chinese Civil War|
|10 December 1949 – Present (de facto)|
|People's Republic of China|| Beijing|
|1 October 1949 – Present|
- Denis Twitchett, Herbert Franke, John K. Fairbank, in The Cambridge History of China: Volume 6, Alien Regimes and Border States (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994), p 454.
- 李玉潔.  (2003). 中國早期國家性質. 知書房出版集團. ISBN 986-7938-17-8, ISBN 978-986-7938-17-6.
- Bamboo annals Xia chapter on Xia Jie under the name Gui (癸).
- Kenneth Pletcher (2010) ”The History of China”, page 173 ISBN 1615301097
- William T. Rowe (2009) ”China's Last Empire: The Great Qing”, page 19 ISBN 0674036123
- Esherick, Joseph.  (2000). Remaking the Chinese City: Modernity and National Identity, 1900-1950. University of Hawaii Press. ISBN 0-8248-2518-7.
- Clark, Anne Biller. Clark, Anne Bolling. Klein, Donald. Klein, Donald Walker.  (1971). Harvard Univ. Biographic Dictionary of Chinese communism. Original from the University of Michigan v.1. Digitized Dec 21, 2006. p 134.