Forbidden City Palace Museum

Tour Day Three: Monday, April 23, 2001

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This is a marble bridge over the moat shown below.
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What is the Forbidden City, and what was it used for?

This is what the publication Beijing in a Nutshell has to say about the palace:

This was the palace for the Emperor Yong Le. The construction began in 1406 — the 4th year of his reign. This was the court palaces for the Ming and Qing Dynasties. It was named the Forbidden City because only the emperor and his entourage were allow to enter. It was forbidden to the common people. It covers an area of 720,000 square meters (something over 6,480,000 square feet), and it contains over 9,000 rooms! It is surrounded by a moat 52 meters — approximately 160 feet wide. (I don't believe they were referring to the one pictured above.) The palace wall is 30 feet high, and more than 9,000 feet long. At its four corners are beautifully styler watchtowers.

The architectural setting of the Palace museum is divided into two sections, the Front Court, and Inner Palace. The Front Court includes the Hall of Supreme Harmony (Taihedian), the Hall of Perfect Harmony (Zhonghedian) and the Hall of Preserving Harmony (Baohedian). On the eastern and western sides of the Front Court are the Hall of Literary Glory and the Hall of Military Excellence. The Front Court was predominantly the place where the emperor conducted important state affairs, met with foreigh ambassadors and envoys, and held consultations with ministers.

The Inner Palace is composed of the Hall of Heavenly Purity (Qianqinggong), the Hall of Union (Jiaotaidian), and the Palace of Earthly tranquility (Kunninggong). The Inner Palace was the place where the emperor conducted day-to-day government affairs and where the queen and princes lived. It lasted for more than 570 years and went through 24 emperors.

The architecture of the Palace Museum is majestic and is the essence of the classical Chinese art of architecture. It is also the largest existing classical architectural complex preserved intact. In 1987, UNESCO listed the Palace Museum as one of the Cultural Legacies of the World.

If you wish to learn more about the old palace, use this link for a map and tour.

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This photo was published in Beijing in a Nutshell.

One of Many wall decorations found in the palace buildings.

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Page last updated May 29, 2001.