Features of the Forbidden City in China
A UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most famous attractions in all of China, the Forbidden City served as the Imperial Palace from the time of the Ming Dynasty to the Qing Dynasty, spanning approximately 500 years since 1420. Not only did the emperors, their families and their staff reside there, but the Forbidden City also served as the hub for government activity. This site is now part of the Palace Museum, housing more than one million valuable pieces of artwork and artifacts. These items include paintings, ceramics, bronze items, jade, time pieces and ancient items used by the palace such as government and ceremony pieces.
The Forbidden City contains 980 buildings. There are more than 8,000 rooms located here. The architecture is the prime example of traditional Chinese style, and over time many other structures have been inspired by or modeled after the Forbidden City. Because this structure is so huge, it took 15 years to complete, and over a million laborers to do the work. The materials used certainly weren’t cheap — gold bricks were used as flooring and other parts of the structure were made from marble and Phoebe zhennan wood. Twenty four emperors called this building home until the abdication of Emperor Puyi.
Located in the center of Beijing, the Forbidden City is a definitely a tourist attraction but you will not find modern shops selling coffee or souvenirs as efforts have been taken to retain the dignity of the palace. There are two main parts that make up this structure, the Outer Court and the Inner Court. The Outer Court was an important place for government and ceremonial affairs. Here you will find a large square intersected by the Golden Water River, behind which sits a three tier terrace made of marble and the grouping known as the Hall of Supreme Harmony Square.
The Inner Court was the home of the emperor, his family and main household staff. In the middle there are three halls — the Palace of Heavenly Purity, the Hall of Union and the Palace of Earthly Tranquility. By tradition, the Emperor lived in the Palace of Heavenly Purity, the Empress lived in the palace of Earthly Tranquility and the two met in the Hall of Union. To both the east and west are smaller palaces where the children and the Emperor’s mistresses resided.
If you want to visit the Forbidden City, it will cost you 40rmb admission between the months of November 1st to March 31st. Between April 1st and October 31st the cost is 60rmb. Small children get in free and students with an identification card only have to pay 20rmb. A tip to remember is to purchase a map of the Forbidden City when you first enter, as this is the only chance you’ll have to buy it and it makes an excellent souvenir. If you are heading to Beijing, this incredible palatial museum is a must-visit destination.