China - Beijing
~ Forbidden City ~
Forbidden City - from the Prospect Hill in the north

Main Entrance,
Outer Court
meridian gate - main entrance
 Meridian Gate
gate of supreme harmony
 Gate of 
Supreme Harmony
harmony square
 Harmony Square
hall of supreme harmony
Hall of 
Supreme Harmony
halls of preserved and central harmony
Halls of Medium / Preserved Harmony
UNESCO World Heritage

roof tops The Forbidden City was a fascinating experience – for its marvellous architecture as much as for its dimensions.  Situated in the very heart of the ancient city of Beijing, it covers an area of 72 hs, with palaces, gates and pavilions, altogether comprising 9999.5 rooms – one less than the mythological number of 10,000 rooms in heaven.  The city is surrounded by a six.52 meter wide, 6 meter deep moat and a ten meter high, 3,400 m long city wall.

The construction of the palace complex began in 1406 and was completed in 1420.  Up to the revolution in 1911 24 emperors of the  Ming and Qing dynasties had reigned and lived here.  Thus the forbidden City houses numerous rare treasures as well as a range of well preserved architectural masterpieces of the Ming and Qing dynasties. It is listed by UNESCO as the largest collection of preserved ancient wooden structures in the world and is one of the most popular tourist attractions worldwide, which makes it difficult to assess the sights, as hundreds of people crowd in, particularly round the palaces, to catch a view of the interior, which can only be viewed from the outside. 

The elaborately restored marvellous halls, pavilions and gates with splendid painted colourful decoration and curved roofs are of stunning beauty and convey a fascinating impression of the imperial splendour and architecture where colours, numbers and symmetry play an important part. Yellow is a royal colour, as exemplified by the glazed tiles on the roof.  The red colour of the walls symbolizes happiness and auspiciousness.  Usually mythological animals decorate the curved ends of the roofs. The more animals, the more important the building.

The major buildings of the palace are aligned on a north-south axis that extends beyond the walls towards the Temple of Heaven  complex in the south and towards the bell and drum towers in the north. The complex is divided into two parts by the Gate of heavenly Purity (Qian Qing Men).

Gate to the
Inner Court
gate celestrial purity
 Gate of 
Celestial Purity,
hall celestrial purity
Hall of 
Celestial Purity
imperial garden
Imperial Garden
gate divine might
Gate of 
Divine Might
North exit

The south part is called 'Outer Court' (pictures to the left) and was devoted primarily to official and ceremonial functions and includes splendid palaces as well as huge squares – large enough to hold 100,000 people, which was about the size of the Imperial Court.  The north part, the so-called "Inner Court"  (pictures to the right) formed the residential area, where the emperors lived with thei families and concubines.  It includes also a marvellous, classical Chinese garden, which was the private retreat  for the imperial family. 
You may enter the forbidden city now.

Opposite of the northern gate is the Jingshan Park (Jingshan Gongyuan) with the prospect hill (also called the coal hill), which was originally made with the soil from the moat surrounding the Forbidden City. The Pavilion of Everlasting Spring (wanchun) on top of the middle hilltop used to be the highest point in the city and provides spectacular views of Beijing and the Imperial Palace.

roof with mythological animals
forbidden city fire extinguisher
forbidden city elaborate roof decoration
gate of supreme harmony
guarding lion

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