the early 1400's, the third Ming Emperor "Yongle"
moved the capital of China to Beijing. In 1406 he began
construction on his new capital. The Capital consisted of
three main sections: The Forbidden City, which contained the
Imperial Palace complex; The Imperial City, which was home
to the government officials; and the Outer City which was
south of the Imperial City and is where the rest of the
people lived. The
Forbidden City of China is also known as two other names –
the Imperial Palace Museum and Gugong, although the Imperial
Palace is an entity of the City.
Both the Ming and Qing Dynasties carried out their
administrative duties and lived within the walls of this
The Forbidden City, ( so named because
common people were forbidden to enter ) was indeed a city.
Over 800 buildings containing 8,886 rooms, and
covering 250 acres. The entire complex is surrounded by a 32
foot high wall which is protected by a 165 foot wide
drainage ditch forming a mote. The city is only accessible
by entering through one of four gates which span the water.
the Forbidden City is a public museum, drawing the attention
of millions of people from around the world. It is here that
you can see traditional architectural pieces up close and
marvel in the treasures of the Imperial family and its
court. You will find this magnificent piece of history sitting
directly across from the Tiananmen Square, the heart of
you will find the main entrance into the museum although
smaller entrances are still open through the east and north
of structures found within the walls of the Forbidden City
are post-18th Century architecture.
While some of these buildings have experienced levels
of damage caused by the Gobi winds, the Manchus, and the 21st
Century looting by the Japanese and Kuomintang forces, most
of them are still standing firm.
operation of the Forbidden City has stretched over five
centuries during which time, 24 Emperors from the Ming and
Qing Dynasties ruled. It
was in these 500 years that the Forbidden City was
considered “off limits” to the world, which even
included the Chinese population.
However, that has all changed and today, people mill
about every day through the cluster of buildings, free to
enjoy the fascinating structures, tranquil gardens, and
visit the Imperial Palace, you will have two choices.
The first is a short, two-hour tour and the second is
an all-day guided tour that will take you through each of
the rooms. If
you prefer the shorter tour, you will still gain valuable
insight from the plaques that mark each piece, providing
historical information as well as the item’s relevance of
color yellow being the symbol for the royal family, you will
find it to be dominant throughout the City.
For example, the roofs have yellow glazed tiles,
palace decorations are painted yellow, and the bricks found
outside are yellow. The only exception to this is the royal library called
portion of the Forbidden City was built with a black room to
resemble water. It
was believed that if the palace should ever catch fire, the
water could help extinguish it.
Either tour is a culturally rewarding experience that
you will not soon forget.
part of the Forbidden City is the Hall of Preserving
Hall was at one time used as a banquet hall for influential
artistry seen as you approach the building is truly
mesmerizing, validating the rich history.
The steps that lead down into the main corridor are
covered with intricate dragons and other Chinese figures.
stone even more intriguing is the fact that each step was
initially part of a massive stone.
To transport the stone to the palace, the Chinese
people had to be ingenuous in that moving it in a
traditional manner simply would not work.
Therefore, during one winter when the roads flooded
and then froze, they saw their opportunity.
The stone was slide down the road until it finally
reached its home at the Hall.
important part of the Forbidden City is the Hall of Supreme
Hall was used for large gatherings where important guests
were entertained. To
honor these guests, the Hall was decorated extravagantly.
As you tour through this particular building, you
will find 308 bronze vats located throughout the palace.
During the Ming and Qing Dynasties, these very vats
were filled with water in case of fire.
Palace is by far the most beautiful structure of all within
the Forbidden City. Each
walkway is magnificently designed with stone and enriched
with beautiful rose gardens.
If you like, you can rest in any of the courtyards or
pavilions and feel the enchantment of this powerful place.
For a small
fee, you can climb the steps of the Tiananmen Gate and once
at the top, you will have the opportunity to look out over
the Square. Here
you will see the same panoramic view that Mao enjoyed while
in reign. Because
this was Mao’s favorite place to watch the people walking
below, in his honor a gigantic portrait of him hangs there
heard the history of the Great Wall of Chine and sadly, some
areas of this great wonder are in poor condition.
What many people do not know is that the Great Wall
of China had a vital link to the Forbidden City.
You see, the Wall was designed and constructed with
watchtowers all along its structure.
It was from these watchtowers that smoke signals were
sent as a way of communicating with the Forbidden City.
The word “Beijing” translates to mean “Northern
Beijing is the home to more than 12 million people.
This city has undergone many transformations
throughout the centuries and to most people visiting, they
are often surprised at what they see.
The Forbidden City and Imperial Palace are just two
examples of the rich history remaining in this part of China
for all to enjoy.