In the heart of Beijing is one of the most well preserved imperial palaces of China, the Forbidden City. The splendid palace got its name from the fact that it was inaccessible for 500 years, finally being made into the Palace Museum in 1925 after the last Emperor abdicated and later was evicted.
The Forbidden City is the largest palace complex in the world. It was commissioned in 1406 by Emperor Yongle who was part of the Ming Dynasty but building wasn’t finished until 1420. It was the centre of Chinese politics for centuries, being home to 24 Emperors and has such historical, political and cultural significance that it has been recognised as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO since 1987.
A trip to the Forbidden City requires a little planning, because there is a cap on how many tickets can be sold to control the number of visitors. So when you’re doing all the usual prep for your trip, such as arranging accommodation and buying travel insurance, don’t forget to prebook your Forbidden City tickets online to avoid disappointment on the day.
Inside the Forbidden City
The grand complex is made up of many buildings; 90 palaces contain a total of over 8700 rooms in total. To visit the City properly takes a full day, so do allow plenty of time for your visit.
The Outer Court
There are three main buildings to visit in the Outer Court, namely the Hall of Supreme Harmony which was the most important building in China, the Hall of Central Harmony and the Hall of Preserving Harmony. They were used for ceremonies, speeches, banquets and exams. They are decorated with immense splendour, with gold plated depictions of dragons and carved marble blocks. You can view the breathtaking thrones upon which the Emperors sat.
The Inner Court
This court is also dominated by three main structures, this time three Palaces. These are the Palace of Heavenly Peace, the Palace of Union and Peace and the Palace of Terrestrial Tranquility. In these, the Emperors slept, held feasts, married and worshipped. The Emperors slept here and held great feasts for their officials.
In the Palace of Union and Peace is a beautiful Chinese water clock, the Copper Clepsydra. This is how time was measured in ancient China, though this one dates from the 18th Century.
The Inner Court contains 12 other palaces which were the day to day living quarters of Emperors, Empresses and concubines, and where daily business took place. They are just as worth a look around if you’ve got the time to spare.
At the northern end of the City is the Imperial Garden which is intricately landscaped and contains several different gardens within it. There are some ancient trees which have been growing there for hundreds of years.
Beijing is a fantastic city to visit and it’s steeped in cultural history. The Palace Museum at Forbidden City gives an amazing insight into the Dynasties of the last 500 years.
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