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Date Created: 12/18/15
The Forbidden City - Home Of The Imperial Emperors In Ancient China If there is one place in China you have to see, it is the Forbidden City. The Forbidden City is an imperial palace that was the home to 24 emperors during the Ming and Qing dynasties from 1420 to 1912. Mere words alone simply cannot describe how impressive the Forbidden City is and how it was and still is an integral part of Chinese culture and history. A visit to the Forbidden City should be ranked high on every travellers bucket list. One mere blog post cannot do justice to the awesomeness of the Forbidden City so I will humbly cover the basics, throw in a few pics of my last visit and give you the basics to help you with your visit which you must make. Background and History Name - People were only allowed to enter and leave with the emperor's permission so it was called "forbidden". "City" comes from the translation of the a part older Chinese name cheng which means walled city. Now common Chinese name for the Forbidden City is gu gong which directly translates into old palace. History - After moving house a few times, the Ming Dynasty emperor Zhi Di decided to head back to Beijing and needed a suitable residence so work on the Forbidden City began in 1406 and finished in 1420. The Forbidden City was the home for the royal family until 1912 when Puyi abdicated the throne to Sun Yat Sen and the newly formed Republic of China. Facts - The world's largest palace complex (eat your heart out Buckingham Palace) covering 74 hectares, over 8500 rooms (number vary depending on who you talk to). The encircling wall is over 8 meters wide at the base and over 6 meters wide at the top and has a circumference of over 3,400 meters. Description - Is divided into two parts, the outer court and the inner court. The outer court was used for ceremonial purposes (impress guests) and the inner court housed the emperor and his extended family and served as the emperors offices. Trivia - All except for two roofs in the Forbidden City are made with glazed yellow tiles because yellow is the color of the emperor. The north south central axis running from the "Gate of Dine Might" at the north to the "Meridian Gate" at the south is the actual central axis of Beijing. Starbucks opened a store there in 2000 and did not close until 2007 when sanity finally prevailed. Chairman would never have let that happen. Going there - You want at least half a day to see the Forbidden City properly. I took over 6 hours and had to be dragged out by companions with less refined taste. Start of early in the morning at Beijing Train Station which is major tourist destination in its own right. Then walk north along Beijing Station street until you hit Jiang Guo Men street and then head west and keep going till you see the entrance to he Forbidden City. You can't miss it. You'll have Tian An Men square to your left and an enormous portrait of Chair Man Mao to your right. The walk itself is a delight and a great way to see the center of Beijing. Where to stay - Anywhere in central Beijing within walking distance of Tian An Men is OK. My favourite is the Beijing City Central International Youth Hotel which is across the road from the Beijing train station. Prices are reasonable, staff friendly and location ideal. Opening hours are from 8:30am to 4:30pm during the low season from November to March and 8:30am to 5:00 during the high season from April to October. Tickets are not sold during the last hour and entry is not allowed during the last 50 minutes. According to my most reliable source (disclaimer here) entry fee during peak season is 60 RMB and 40 RMB for low season. My Take - You MUST go to the center of the Hall of Supreme Harmony and stand there. Why? Because that spot is the center of the Forbidden City which makes it the center of Beijing which is the center of China which is from a Chinese persons point of view, the center of the universe. So stand there, take a photo (like mine below) and savour the experience of being at the center of the universe. The Australian equivalent (from a Melbournians point of view) is standing on the steps of Flinder Street train station. Then spend hours wandering through the buildings, lane ways and court yards where the rulers of China lived, ruled, played, plotted and died. Countless Chinese TV series are based on the Forbidden City and life there during the Qing and Ming dynasties. Book Bejing Hotels