Experiences - Asia

Forbidden City, Beijing

The Forbidden City was the Chinese imperial palace from the Ming dynasty to the end of the Qing dynasty. Located in the center of Beijing, China, it served as the home of emperors and their households, as well as the ceremonial and political center of Chinese government, for almost 500 years. It is now known as the Palace Museum and is open to Beijing’s visitors, and is an important part of China’s cultural heritage.

The well-guarded palace is surrounded by a moat 3,800 meters long and 52 meters wide. It has 9,999 rooms – a room being the space between four pillars. There are five entrances to the gate – the central one reserved for the emperor. The empress was allowed through it only once – on her wedding day.

Forbidden City Beijing

Image Courtesy: Kirk Siang used under the Creative Commons Licence

It is divided into two parts. The southern section or the Outer Court was where the emperor exercised his supreme power over the nation. The northern section or the Inner Court was where he lived with his royal family. Until 1924 when the last emperor of China was driven from the Inner Court, fourteen emperors of the Ming dynasty and ten emperors of the Qing dynasty had reigned here. Having been the imperial palace for some five centuries, it houses numerous rare treasures and curiosities.

Here are a few must visit areas in the palace premises:

  • Ceramics Gallery – Hall of Literary Glory.
  • Chinese Painting and Calligraphy Gallery – Hall of Martial Valor.
  • Treasure Gallery – Palace of Tranquil Longevity area.
  • Timepieces Gallery – Hall for Ancestry Worship.
  • Gold and Silver Wares Gallery – Palace of Great Brilliance in the Six Eastern Palaces.
  • Bronze Ware Gallery – corridor rooms around the Palace of Heavenly Purity.
  • Qing Imperial Opera Gallery –Pavilion of Pleasant Sounds and Hall for Viewing Opera.
  • Jade Gallery – Palace of Gathering Essence (Zhong Cui Gong) in the Six Eastern Palaces.

Forbidden City

Image Courtesy: See-ming Lee used under the Creative Commons Licence

An excellent view of the Forbidden City from the north is seen atop Coal Hill in Jingshan Park. The hill is made from the dirt excavated from the moat surrounding the Forbidden City, and according to Feng Shui, keeps the evil spirits from the north from entering.

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