As every great emperor should, Kublai Khan had a summerhouse in the province of Shangdu that he built in order to indulge himself in his every desire. Until its discovery in the 20th century, Xanadu was believed to be a mythical creation. Although only ruins are left, archeologists have identified what they believe to have been an irrigation system. This particular system is said to have been used later in other parts of the country to progress agricultural advances and also to repair damages done during the Mongolian war.
Xanadu has been the inspiration of poets and filmmakers alike. Samuel Taylor Coleridge wrote a poem entitled “Kubla Khan, or, A Vision in a Dream: A Fragment” which goes like this:
In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree:
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.
So twice five miles of fertile ground
With walls and towers were girdled round:
And there were gardens bright with sinuous rills,
Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree;
And here were forests ancient as the hills,
Enfolding sunny spots of greenery.....
It was a miracle of rare device,
A sunny pleasure-dome with caves of ice!
Although much of this is speculation considering no one truly knows what went on in Kublai Khan’s “pleasure-dome,” Coleridge has evoked an image of a very indulgent emperor. I feel that it’s pretty accurate to say that even though the details may be off, Kublai Khan most likely went all out in having no shame giving himself whatever it was that he wanted.
The film Xanadu, from my understanding of the Xanadu (film) wiki page
references Coleridge’s poem. One of the main characters is trying to open a nightclub and he wants to name it Xanadu. That says a lot there about how he probably wants the place to be like, modeling it after a “pleasure-dome.”
Kublai Khan doesn’t know what his creation did to inspire future artists, but I am sure he would have been happy to know that his work is appreciated, even hundreds of years later.