The Forbidden City was the palace of the last 24 emperors of Chinese dynasties. It was built during the Ming Dynasty between 1406 and 1420. For over five centuries, it was the center of China´s supreme power. Today it represents the heart of China and sacred ground for all Chinese people.
The Chinese are a people who value certain beliefs as being very important. The name of the Forbidden City represents the difference that was made at the time between the world inside the old palace and the outside world. Thus, people wanting to enter the city, even the princes, had first to announce 20 steps from the door of the great ancestors, known as the Forbidden Door.
Similarly, the shape of the palate comes from the ancient belief that China was the center of a square earth. The Forbidden City is the heart of China, so it should be at the center of the capital and be square. Finally, there are also beliefs related toward colors. When talking about China, the colors of red and gold are often referenced. The first color represents happiness and marriage. Gold is the color of emperors in ancient China. That is why you see a lot of decoration in gold when you visit Beijing. In addition, this color is the symbol of the earth, roots and origin of life. The Emperor, who was the very heart of the people, was the only person able to wear the color. Anyone wearing this color was punishable by death at that time.
The first impression of Forbidden City is huge! It extends over 220,000 m² in the center of Beijing and consists of some 9999 rooms. Imagine if you had an infant sleeping each night in a different room of the palace. It would take 27 years before that baby would be able to finish sleeping in all parts of the Forbidden City! That is the greatness of the imperial palace!
As the palace of the emperors, it is protected by 3 meters high walls, moat and watchtowers, also called corner towers. The Forbidden City mainly consists of halls, which are divided on a north-south and east-west separation. In the main part, we find the three most important halls: the Hall of Supreme Harmony, the Hall of Central Harmony and the Hall of Preserving Harmony. The Forbidden City is huge, but the buildings themselves (without taking into account the gardens and courtyards) are the largest architectural group in the world with an area of 150,000 m² of buildings. The Versailles is not far behind with a construction area of 110,000 m². This is also a very good example of Chinese geomancy and traditional architecture by the way.
The Forbidden City is also known as the Palace Museum. This palace contains so many treasures and memories of ancient times that it would be normal to have it converted into a museum (rather than carry the works and leave the city empty).
The Forbidden City is a reflection of the mixture of the two cradles of ancient Chinese culture: Taoism and Confucianism. Confucian ideas are found in all selected characters that were used to name the parts of the palace, such as kindness, harmony and stability. The halls are named according to the "Book of Changes". The whole history of the Forbidden City will be traced during the visit, and you also learn about its most important moments, which have occurred there over the last six centuries.
If you are not in a hurry, do not hesitate to go through the Hall of Clocks and Watches. For an additional cost, you will discover an exceptional treasure: a huge collection of clocks made of exquisite workmanship. Some clocks are very rare and date back to the Seventeenth century. Some are also gifts from foreign delegations such as England, France and Japan.
The Forbidden City is a symbolic place for the Chinese. It is the center of the universe. It occupies such an important place in Chinese history that many films depict parts of its history. For example, "The Last Emperor", for example, chronicles the last decades of Chinese dynasties during the reign of Puyi and an adaptation of the political events would follow. At the time, the film was shot in the precincts of the Forbidden City. Today, a replica of the site is located at Hengdian, the largest studio in the world; thus, film no longer need to be shot in the real palace because this palace was important enough to make a replica of it for cinema. The palace is a mythical place that is a must-experience when traveling to Beijing.
The Imperial Palace is so vast that it is better to plan ahead before visiting. The easiest way is through Tiananmen Square and then pass the Tiananmen gate to reach the southern entrance to the city. Once on the site, follow the central axis from south to north to avoid missing major imperial buildings. You can also get away from the axis by visiting the adjacent monuments and lose yourself in the sites on the way, including the Nine Dragon Screen Wall. But do not forget to return to the central axis to see the Hall of Supreme Harmony, the Hall of Central Harmony and the Hall of Preserving Harmony. Before departing north of the Forbidden City, try the imperial garden, a perfect example of classical Chinese gardens.
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Prince Gong´s Mansion
Corner Towers of Forbidden City
National Grand Theatre
Mutianyu Great Wall
Beijing Roast Duck
Badaling Great Wall
Temple of Heaven
The Summer Palace
Yonghe Lama Temple
Temple of Confucius
Bell Tower and Drum Tower
Beijing Capital Museum
Jinshanling Great Wall
Old Summer Palace
Beijing Ancient Observatory
National Museum of China
National Aquatics Center
Simatai Great Wall
Beijing South Cathedral
Jiankou Great Wall
Zhuangdaokou Great Wall
Chinese Kung Fu Show
Beijing Acrobatic Show