It is pretty much the synonym of Beijing or even China. It is located in the heart of Beijing, or more accurately, the City of Beijing was erected centering it. The Forbidden City, is one of the largest and most spectacular palaces in the world.
The title Forbidden City, Zijincheng, derived from the fact that ordinary plebeians were strictly forbidden from approaching the City in imperial times. Gugong, its modern name, means “palace from the past” while the Palace Museum indicates that it has been turned into a museum with millions of pieces of precious antiquities opened to the public nowadays.
After the Prince of Yan, Zhu Di, launched a coup against his own nephew, the then emperor and assumed the throne in Ming Dynasty, so the arduous construction of Forbidden City began. After 14 years of work, the City was completed in 1420 AD and the capital of the country was relocated from Nanjing to Beijing. During the 500 year thereafter, 24 emperors, of Ming and Qing dynasty have resided in the palace, until another coup, initiated by Feng Yuxiang, evicted Puyi, the last emperor out of it in 1924. The City covers a land of perfect rectangle, measuring 960m (3,150ft) from north to south and 753m (2,470ft) from west to east, which equals to the area of 120 football fields. It is surrounded by a moat 52m (170ft) wide, 6m (20ft) deep and 3,800m (2.36mile) long.
One of the prominent characteristics of the royal architectures from the imperial times in Beijing or other places is that the complex must be build along a north-south axis, all the buildings are placed symmetrically on two sides of the axis and the main entrance must be on the south end, Forbidden City is no exception. Meridian Gate, the entrance, has five openings. Only the emperor can use the biggest, also the middle one. Other royals and high-ranking officials were only allowed to take the smaller side doors.
The gate has more ceremonial meanings than practical usage, for example, the drum and bell on top of it would only chime in particular sacrificial ceremonies; on the first day of the tenth month of the lunar calendar every year, the emperor would be announcing next year’s calendar on Meridian Gate, and corporal penalty upon corrupted officials would be carried out in front of the gate for cautionary purpose.
Passing by the Meridian Gate, stroll through the vast square and a river with five bridges arching above it, the central part of the City, from south to north, the Hall of Supreme Harmony, the Hall of Central Harmony and the Hall of Preserving Harmony are towering above a three-tiered white marble Platform. The Hall of Supreme Harmony was the largest building in the City, covering 2,377m2 and rising at 26.92m. It was the venue for coronations, inaugurations, royal weddings and banquets on major festivals. Also, it’s housing the most delicate, exquisite, dazzling golden throne extant. The Hall of Central Harmony was served as the emperor’s preparation and resting place ahead of ceremonies. The Hall of Preserving Harmony has served various purposes as time passed ranging from changing room, banquet room to the venue for the final screening examination for scholars.
Behind these three halls, the Palace of Heavenly Court is the entrance into the Inner Court, the living area of the emperor, empress and concubines. Allegedly, each emperor was married to thousands of concubines, and the number of maids, eunuchs and servants could reach tens of thousands. Another legend has it, that the Jade Emperor, the highest ruler of the Heaven, the Hell and the mundane world in Chinese mythology, has a palace consisting 10,000 rooms, so the Forbidden City was designed to consist of 9,999 and a half rooms in reverence to the Jade Emperor. But in careful inspect, the exact number of rooms is 8,704, which would take a person more than 23 years to sleep in one room each night.
Major buildings in the Inner Court include the Hall of Union (the storage room for imperial seals and ceremonial, sacrificial items), the palace of Earthly Tranquility (the wedding site and residence of the empress), the Palace of Heavenly Purity (the emperor’s study and receiving room of the officials), the Hall of Mental Cultivation (the emperor’s living room/bedroom), the East Six Palace and West Six Palace (residence for concubines).
No.4 the front Jingshan Street, Dongcheng District, Beijing, China
60RMB (1st Apr.-31st Oct.)
40RMB (1st Nov.-31st Mar.)
8:30-17:00 (1st Apr.-31st Oct.)
8:30-16:30 (1st Nov.-31st Mar.)
Closed from 12 o'clock at noon every Monday.
How to get there:
The nearest subway station is Tian’anmendong or Tian’anmenxi Station
Take bus 1, 2, 5, 8, 10, 20, 52, 22, 120, 728, 802 and get off at Tian’anmenxi Station or Tian’anmendong Station
Take bus 9, 17, 22, 44, 48, 59, 66, 110, 126, 301, 646, 673, 692, 729, 803, 808, 901, 101, 103, 109, 685, 814, 846 and get off at Gugong Station
Recommended stay hour: 3 to 4 hours;
Optimum time to visit: September to October (covered by beautiful and crimson maple leaves).
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