Forbidden City (故宫)

  • Things to Do
  • Landmarks
The jewel in Beijing’s crown – the historic centerpiece and the centre of the universe as far as the Emperors were concerned – the Forbidden City is a Unesco World Heritage Site and is the largest collection of preserved ancient wooden structures in the world. Commissioned in 1406 by Ming emperor Yongle, it reportedly took over one million skilled laborers nearly 14 years to complete. First officially occupied by the court in 1420, it went on to house 24 emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties over 500 years.

The Forbidden City was for much of its existence unknown to anyone besides the emperor, his officials, concubines and eunuch servants. Regular citizens were not allowed to enter and even most of those who were allowed through the initial gates of the city were not permitted to enter the Inner Court.

Things to look out for in and around each hall include: the number of animals marching on the eaves of each roof, denoting the rank of the person inside. The roofs themselves are all yellow glaze, since yellow was the symbolic colour of the royal family. It’s interesting to spot the huge bronze vats outside some of the bigger halls too; they were filled with water (heated from underneath during the winter) and served as ancient imperial fire extinguishers.It’s also worth noting that people often emerge at the north gate, having walked the Palace from end to end, and complain that they thought there would be more to see. In fact there’s plenty, you just have to know where to find it. Once you’ve walked the length of the City and reached the gardens, take the opportunity to go back and explore the East and West six palaces and the Hall of Jewellery, Treasure Gallery or Clock Museum, since this is where most of the artifacts from the museum are kept.

One of Beijing's top tourist spots
Venue name: Forbidden City (故宫)
Contact:
Opening hours: April-October 8:30am-5pm (last entry 4pm) daily November-March 8:30-4:30pm (last entry 3:30) daily
Admission: Apr-Oct 60RMB; Nov-Mar 40RMB
English address: Tianamen Square, Dongcheng district
Chinese address: 故宫,东城区天安门广场北侧
  • Tours 10 Nov - 31 May
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