What is the Forbidden City

The Forbidden City is a large palatial structure located in Beijing, China. It was built in 14th century and has been home to 24 emperors from Ming dynasty to the Qing dynasty. Common people were totally forbidden to enter the palace complex, hence the name Forbidden City. 

UNESCO declared it as a World Heritage site in 1987 and it now is converted to Palace Museum, which is a major tourist attraction. The palace houses a large collection of old Chinese relics, porcelains, paintings, furniture, apparels, statues, jade articles. For more than 500 years, the Forbidden City was where emperors with their households resided. In those times, emperors were believed to have come from heaven. So, the palace was built as an imitation to the Purple Palace, which was believed to be God’s home in heaven. In earlier times it was called Zijin Cheng which meant Purple Forbidden City.

The complex has 90 palaces and courtyards, 900 buildings, and over 9900 rooms. The construction started in 1406 and it took 15 years to build. Millions of workers were involved in building the Forbidden City. Situated in the middle of Beijing city, the palace complex is spread in an area of 72 hectares. There is 10 meters high wall surrounding this huge palace complex. All the four corners of the Forbidden City have watchtowers for security reasons.


One can enter the Forbidden City through the Gate of Heavenly Palace, which leads to Meridian Gate, which was the place where the emperor declared the lunar calendar on the solstice. One can exit the Forbidden City through Gate of Divine Might.

The Forbidden City has two parts: outer court and inner court. The outer court has some main buildings, namely, Hall of Supreme Harmony, Hall of Central Harmony and Hall of Preserving Harmony. Of these the first one, Hall of Supreme Harmony is a very important and huge structure. All these halls were used by emperors for grand ceremonies and every hall had a different purpose. The remaining part of outer court houses gardens and other halls.

The inner court has three main interesting structures. Most interesting of them all is the Palace of Heavenly Peace, which was the emperors sleeping quarter. Palace of Imperial Peace was where imperial seals were stocked. Hall of terrestrial Tranquility was the emperors wedding room. The inner palaces are spread across the northern, eastern and western parts of the city, most of which are now exhibition halls. These palaces used to house emperors and their families, concubines, eunuchs and maid servants. At the northern end lies the Imperial garden which has many old trees. 


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