Discover China: The Forbidden City

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The Forbidden City, situated at the center of the ancient city of Beijing, was the imperial palace during the Ming and Qing Dynasties.  It is  the world’s largest palace complex and the massive grounds of the Forbidden City cover 720,000 square meters,  contains 800 buildings and around 9,999 rooms.  Some of the buildings  and palaces are closed for public viewing due to renovation work.


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The Gate of Heavenly Peace (Tian’Anmen) is the main entrance of the Forbidden City.  It is now the symbol of new China. 


Over a span of more than 560 years, 24 emperors lived here.  During the reign of the Ming and Qing Dynasties,  only the royal family and ministers were allowed into the forbidden city.  Commoners and ordinary people were absolutely forbidden to enter the city.  Ironically, today, the Forbidden City is no longer a forbidden city, but is a permitted city, and is a public museum and a World Heritage site, drawing millions of tourists from around the world.


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The Taihe Gate is the highest gate in the Forbidden City


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Palaces of Central and Preserving Harmony


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The Sandalwood Throne(L); Stone Carving, dragon, symbol of celestial power and the emperor


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The Palace of Supreme Harmony is built on three huge and beautifully carved marble terraces


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The Palace of Heavenly Purity


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The Watch Tower in the Forbidden City


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The Moat


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Bronze Crane and Tortoise, symbols of longevity; Bronze Dings


In the corridors you will see  gilded bronze vats, which were used to hold water in case of fire. A fire could be lit under the vat in winter to stop the water from freezing. There are 308 vats in total, in the Forbidden City.


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Vats


Roofs of glazed golden tiles, walls of terra-cotta,  white marble, woodwork completed with vermillion paint, lacquer and gilding, amalgamate together to create an effect of splendor.  The predominant colour at the Forbidden city is red, yellow and purple,  said to be colours of  Chinese Royalty.


The gate is guarded by a couple of bronze lions which aimed to indicate imperial dignity and symbolizing imperial power.


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The Imperial garden was built in 1417 during the Ming dynasty. It covers an area of about 12,000 square meters and was the private garden of the imperial family.


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400 ear old consort pines; Unicorn


In front of the hall, there is a pair of 400 years old consort pines, symbolizing the harmony of the Emperor and empress.  Two gilded unicorns at the entrance to the imperial garden.  Special shaped rocks help decorate the garden.


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There are many trees within the garden, some of which belong to the bygone era.


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Tian An Men Gate & Tian An Men Square


Built in 1420 during the reign of Emperor Yongle in the Ming Dynasty, Tian’AnMen (Gate of Heavenly Peace) was the south gate to the Forbidden Ciy. 


Tian AnMen  has great cultural significance because it was on the rostrum of Tian AnMen Gate that Mao ZeDong declared the People’s Republic of China on October 1st 1949. That is why a large portrait of Mao hangs from the rostrum of Tian AnMen Gate


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Tian AnMen Square is 880 metres from north to south and 500 metres from east to west, with a total area of 440,000 square meters. It is the largest open square in the world – considerably larger than Red Square in Moscow.  During 1989, protests were held here, which led to the Massacre of thousands of  civilians.


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Mao ZeDong’s Mausoleum, in the middle of the square


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Huabiao ?Obelisk of marble engraved with dragons and clouds


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In the middle of the vast square lies the 38 metre high ‘Monument to the People’s Heroes’


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The Great Hall of the People (Museum & Auditorium)


To be continued, stay tuned…!

Author: Judith Serrao- UAE


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