Forbidden City - The Palace Museum, Beijing
The Forbidden City is also known as the Palace Museum. It is the largest palace in the world and was built in the beginning of the Ming Dynasty (1406-1420) Construction of the palace took approximately 14 years to build. A total of 24 emperors were enthroned here. There are a total of 9,999 rooms ( the number 9 was always used by the emperor, because it was considered the highest single- digit odd number.) There are also 9 nails in each door, horizontally and vertically. The color red signifies happiness, yellow signifies earth, which can be seen throughout the city for it was most extensively used by the emperors, who were regarded as the supreme rulers of humanity. Black, which signifies water was used on the library in hopes that it would protect the many books contained within from fire. Within the city walls lived a total of 3000 people, consisting of eunichs, servants, concubines, the emperor, and empress. The tatal area of the Forbidden City is equivalent to 180 acres. After 1911, there was no emperor. The last known emperor resided in the inner quarters of the palace for an additional 30 years until he was thrown out and the palace was opened up as a museum in 1925.
The Forbidden City is found on the northern edge of Tiananmen Square, and I so I went straight there after visiting the Square. I remember going through big red gates with these golden half-ball metal designs,, and getting some goosebumps as I was entering the FORBIDDEN PALACE … I wonder if they also have the Forbidden Dance? (Lambada, hehehe)
The place is as expected huge and full of tourists. So, you really have to come in early to avoid the throngs of people in this 1987 World Heritage Site. There are 980 surviving buildings, and they show traditional Chinese palatial architecture evident in the 1400’s. In close to 500 years, emperors lived and ruled here and treasures were mostly from the Ming and Qing dynasties. However, it is interesting to note that some of the artifacts are in Taipei (the rest in the National Palace Museum).
But now, everything is changing and there was even a controversial Starbucks opened near this formidable complex but eventually closed in 2007. Hopefully, the Chinese government will continue to monitor the preservation of this great historical place.
The Forbidden City is one of the most visited sights in Beijing, and in my opinion one of the biggest as well: 961m north to south and 753m east to west. With 8,706 rooms to explore, a full day should be spent here. More if you're very interested in Chinese history.
The City was built during the emperor Yongle's mandate in 1403, when Beijing became the capital of China (again). Most of the buildings were made of wood and often burned down :( Luckily for us a lot of renovations were made after the People's Republic was born and now we can enjoy visiting this lovely place.
The most characteristic and beautiful things about the Forbidden city is its towers and gates. The decorations and writings are absolutely stunning!
As of Oct 2009, the entrance fee for an adult is 60 RMB.
This is number 1 of Beijing's 4 must sees (Great Wall, Temple of Heaven, and Summer Palace are the other 3) The enormous size of the palace grounds and main halls makes you understand why the Chinese word for China literally translates as "Middle Kingdom". It is the true center of Beijing and, for Chinese people from the Ming through Qing dynasties, the center of the world.
I always tell tourists to enter from the north gate instead of the south because the route leads you into Tiananmen Square. Starting from the north also gives you the panoramic view from atop Jingshan Park, which is best visited in the morning when the old folks are doing their tai chi and other exercises.
The only advantage of entering the Forbidden City from Tiananmen Square is if you wish to rent the taped tour narrated by Roger Moore (one of the James Bond agent 007 actors) as following it requires you to proceed from south to north.
Aside from the general entrance fee, be prepared to pay for extra tickets allowing you to see special exhibits and enter the Tiananmen rostrum. The Forbidden City now serves as a national museum so there are more interesting things to see inside other than just walking around the fascinating buildings.
Take time to stray off the beaten path toward the eastern side of the palace as this is one of the best places to get those splendid photos with absolutely no people in them.
While walking around Forbidden City I tried to imagine the life of an emperor, surrounded by his eunuchs. The names of palaces and other buildings suggest contemplation and peacefulness. Palace of Highest Harmony, Gate of Heavenly Purity, Palace of Peaceful Longevity are just a few examples. But in fact the court life was full of intrigues, fear and even murders. The emperor had jade seals with names of his concubines. If he displayed one of the seals the eunuch on duty had to bring the concubine immediately. She was brought naked ( to prove that she had no weapons) in a rolled carpet.
This is the first amazing view you have as you come inside the walls of the city.
I suggest you hire one of the audio-tours (offered in many languages) and hear the history as you walk through it...
Simply amazing... a must see...
It is huge and with so many point of interest that it is worthwhile to have a guide – or at least one of the excellent publications that describe the history and function of its many buildings. There did not appear to be any English translations of the brochure that came with the ticket.
We started without a guide and at the last minute (the entry) we decided to pay a person who approached us, showed us his credentials and demonstrated a good command of English (100 Yuan). He was informative and undoubtedly we saw more with understanding that we would have without him. Unfortunately he wanted to hurry us so we parted ways after one walk through the complex –we then returned by ourselves to dwell in a more leisurely way on some of the fascinating detail. Worth a whole day if you have the time.
You could time your way back to around sunset when you can catch a glimpse of the guards on the way back from the lowering the flag ceremony. (see tip).
In preparation for the surge of visitors expected in 2008 some buildings in the Forbidden City are undergoing maintenance and are unlikely to be accessible until the latter part of 2007.
No entry after 4.30pm. Cost : 40 Yuan
The Forbidden City is called "The Palace Museum" now, cause it is no longer a Forbidden City as everyone can visit the Palace now with admission charge. It is located in the central of Beijing, which was the imperial palace of Ming and Qing dynasties. This palace was to constructed in 1407, and completed in 1420. There were 24 emperors from the Ming and Qing dynasties living here with nearly 500 years old history. Emperor Yongle was the first emperor who lived here. Among others, Emperor Jiajing of the Ming Dynasty and Emperor Qianlong of the Qing Dynasty made many changes of the Palace complex. In 1911 revolution, Dr. Sun Yat-Sen broke out and overthrew the Qing Dynasty, ending 2,000 years of Chinese feudal monarchy. In 1925, it became a museum named "The Palace Museum" till today. It was declared as UNESCO site in 1987.
I visited the Forbidden City on 7th Oct 2011. I managed to queue for the ticket at 8am on the last day of National Holiday. During the National Holiday, it was too crowded to queue for the ticket, and definitely not a right time to visit. The TV news announced that The Palace Museum has the most visitors among all the attractions in China during National Holiday. The reason is because this is the "Must" place to visit for the Chinese once in their lifetime.
Before I went, I studied what to expect and how long would it take to see it all. Well, the answer is I don't think anyone can see it all in one day because it was so huge, hall after hall with small alleys with red brick walls. If you go with a tour guide, you will most likely miss out a lot of halls and palaces on the east and west, cause they might only show you the important palaces from Meridian Gate (South) to Gate of Divine Prowess (North).
There was a lady gave us some introduction of the museum, and selling us a map with guide book (Y5) while we were in the queue. The map and the guide book were very useful, especially the map gave me the sequence number, so I could avoid wasting time going back to wrong directions. The map and the guide are in bilingual, Chinese and English. So, if you see someone selling maps in your queue, take a look at it!! The map's sequence to visit the palaces as the following:
1) Meridian Gate (Wumen Gate) - In my review
2) Hall of Martial Valor (Wuyin Hall) - In my review
3) Gate of Supreme Harmony (Taihe Gate) - In my review
4) Hall of Supreme Harmony (Taihe Hall) - In my review
5) Hall of Central Harmony (Zhonghe Hall) - In my review
6) Hall of Preserving Harmony (Baohe Hall)- In my review
7) Gate of Heavenly Purity (Qianqing Gate) - In my review
8) Palace of Heavenly Purity (Qianqing Palace)- In my review
9) Hall of Union (Jiaotai Hall) - In my review
10) Palace of Earthly Tranquility (Kunning Palace) -In my review
11) Gate of Earthly Tranquility (Kunning Gate)
12) Imperial Garden - In my review
13) Hall of Imperial Peace (Qinan Hall)- In my review
14) Palace of Gathered Elegance (Chuxiu Palace) - In my review.
15) Palace of Universal Happiness (Xianfu Palace)
16) Palace of External Spring (Changchun Palace) - In my review.
17) Palace of Blessings to Mother Earth (Yikun Palace) -In my review.
18) Palace of Eternal Longevity (Yongshou Palace)
19) Hall of Great Supremacy (Taiji Hall) -In my review.
20) Hall of Mental Cultivation (Yangxin Hall) - In my review.
21) Hall for Abstinence (Zhai Palace)
22) Hall of Benevolence (Jingren Palace) - In my review.
23) Hall of Celestial Favor (Chengqian Palace)
24) Hall of Quintessence (Zhongcui Palace) - In my review.
25) Hall of Justice (Jingyang Palace) -In my review.
26) Hall of Eternal Harmony (Yonghe Palace)
27) Hall of Prolonged Happiness (Yangxi Palace)
28) Hall of Ancestral Worship (Fengxian Hall)
Far East Palaces:
29) Nine-Dragon Screen- In my review.
30) Gate of Peace and Longevity (Ningshou Gate)
31) Hall of the Norms of Government (Huangji Hall)- In my review.
32) Palace of Peace and Longevity (Ningshou Palace)- In my review.
Garden of the Palace of Peace and Longevity (Ning Shou Gong Garden)-In my review.
- Pavilion of Bestowing Wine
- Studio of Ancient Glory
Pavilion of Cheerful Melodies. -In my review.
33) Hall of Character Cultivation (Yang Xing Dian)-In my review.
34) Hall of Joyful Longevity (Leshou Hall) -In my review.
35) Hall of Harmony (Yihe House)- In my review.
36) The Well of Concubine Zhen (Zhenfei Well)- In my review.
37) Gate of Divine Prowess (Shenwu Gate)- In my review.
I left Forbidden City at 4pm, and managed to glance through important halls and gardens. I did not have time to see most of the museums' displays. Good luck!!!
Forbidden City- 紫禁城 (Zi Jin Cheng)
Palace Museum- 故宫博物院 (Gu Gong Bo Wu Yuan)
April 1- Oct 31 (8:30-17:00)
Nov 1- March 31 (8:30-16:30)
April 1- Oct 31 (Y60)
Nov 1- March 31 (Y40)
The buildings represent the largest and best-preserved examples of Chinese traditional architecture found today. The overall layout is centered on the three primary Halls of State: The Hall of Supreme Harmony (Taihedian), The Hall of Middle Harmony (Zhonghedian) and The Hall of Preserving Harmony (Baohedian).
State ceremonies were held in the Outer Court (Wai Chao) of the Forbidden City. Here the emperors governed from their thrones, holding court sessions with their ministers, issuing imperial edicts and initiating military expeditions.
The Outer Court was also the site for important ceremonies: the accession of a new emperor to the throne, birthdays and weddings. The Inner Court (Nei Ting) was the residential area of the emperor and the imperial household, as well as the place where the emperor dealt with routine state affairs.
THE FORBIDDEN CITY was our second stop on Day 1 just by walking through Tian an Men Square & heading for the big portrait of the late Chairman Mao. This place really did challenge for superlatives to describe it, but I have to be honest here that the very next day the Great Wall was beyond superlatives, but that tip will have to wait for a couple seeing I'm doing them chronologically.
Apparently this complex of buildings set in a 72 000 m2 area sees the most visitors of any of China's attractions. I wonder if the Great Wall competes evenly with that. It is an amazing complex of buildings for different original purposes & our guide Jim gave us an incredible amount of information on each of these.
He told us that construction of the original palace buildings first began in 1406 so at least some of these structures are just on 600 years old. He also mentioned something about 1 million labourers & over 100 000 artisans/craftsmen being required to do the work. One fascinating detail that stuck in my mind & portrayed the insecure nature of being Emperor was in regard to a particular walkway of bricks that apparently was laid 15 rows X 15 rows the other way to prevent possible assassins from tunnelling below or through it. Now that's security conscious! Seriously now, it is almost unimaginable to consider how much expense was poured into this place by a succession of Emperors. Divine rule by a sole person certainly had its benefits.
The different components of The Forbidden City are justifiably worthy of stand alone tips, but I don't want to go into that much detail. Instead I will add a travelogue with some of my photos & some info about them with my impressions, albeit fairly briefly. I know how it can become heavy going trying to read tip after tip of dry historical detail about the same place, but different aspects.
I would suggest you give yourself a good couple of hours to a half a day to explore this complex.
Why is it called Forbidden City? The answer is simple - for five hundred years ordinary people could not enter it. It was the seat of emperors belonging to two dynasties: Ming and Qing. The emperors hardly ever left their shelter and in result completely lost any contact with outside world. The country was practically ruled by eunuchs, appointed by emperors.
The beginnings of the Forbidden City date back to the times of emperor Yongle (first half of 15th century). But most of the buildings we can see today were constructed in the 18th century ( the original ones were destroyed by numerous fires). As for the historic objects and treasures gathered by emperors, most of them were transported to Taiwan in 1949. But of course the place is still worth visiting, as it was here that so many events in imperial times took place.
In the heart of Beijing, the Imperial Palace remained the residence of the emperors for nearly five hundred years, from the 15th century to the early 20th century, and was the actual and symbolic seat of imperial power.
Popularly known as the Forbidden City, it was built in the Ming Dynasty between the 4th and the 18th years of the Yongle period (1406 - 1420 AD).
The layout of the Forbidden City is based on a Chinese cosmic diagram of the universe that clearly defines the north-south and east-west axes.
It is considered as a pearl of an architectural heritage of Ancient China as it is one of the few palace ensembles which have kept up to now. Gugun served as a residence to imperial dynasties of Mines (1368-1644) and Cin (1644-1911).
Even earlier this place served as a residence of the Mongolian dynasty Yuan. But the third emperor of a dynasty of Mines ordered to take down constructions of foreign governors, and in 1406 construction of a grandiose Imperial palace begun there.
The palace was built for record-breaking short terms - during 14 years. For this purpose emperor collected two hundred thousand workers, masters and handicraftsmen.
Amazing exemple of chinese architecture... although the conservation of the entire city should be improved.
I bought at that time the audio guided tour, which helped me to understand a little bit more of the magnificent halls and squares inside the walls... If you are alone I suggest you do the same, of course, if you are interested in some history.
This place was fascinating, and it so so HUGE - we just kept walking and walking, through buildings and courtyards, trying to get to the end. Most of the side buildings were closed for some reason the day we were there. We didnt get the true story of this place, as we just strolled through without a guide, not even an audio guide. It was nice just to look at things and take lots of pics, without being bombarded by the history of it all. I know the history is very important, but sometimes we found it a bit too much to be able to take it all in. All I remember is that most ancient Chinese buildings, gardens, temples etc. were constructed in the 13th/14th Centuries, and for me that is hard to fathem, being that Australia is only 221 years old!!!
The architecture at the Forbidden City was amazing, the roof detail and paintings were spectacular. There was a big line-up to get into the City, but it seemed to go very quickly, no major holdups. Entrance fee was 60rmb = about $10AUD, and it is well worth it. Once you walk right through it, you come out the other end, right near entrance to Jingshan Park, you just have to walk under the road and you are there.
Last entry to Forbidden City is at 4.10pm and it is open from 8.30am to 5.00pm. We had been warned by many people about lots of beggars in and around the Forbidden City, but the day we were there, there was not one, absolutely none to be seen!