Shenyang started out in the 11th century as a Mongol trading center, until it was taken over by the Manchus who made it their capital in the 17th century. A few years later in 1644, when the Manchus conquered Beijing, Shenyang became the secondary capital under the name Mukden. The city was a center of ginseng trade but really flourished under the industrialization introduced by Russian occupation, and carried on by Japanese rule. Shenyang has rapidly changed hands throughout its history, as is evidenced by its socialist urban planning.
At the center of town stands a large Mao statue, a symbol of the backwardness during the Cultural Revolution. The Imperial Palace, however is an example of Shenyang's brighter days. The palace was built in 1625 in a Manchu style but is reminiscent of a smaller Forbidden City. The North Tomb is another important piece of history, housing the founder of the Qing dynasty and his wife.