Forbidden City: China’s royal treasure

Asia | | November 11, 2010 at 12:02 am


If you are in the capital city of Beijing in China, you just cannot afford to miss the Forbidden City tour, a legendary site and the famous tourist highlight. Do not make a mistake of considering it as a historical city, but it is the Chinese imperial palace that has been the dwelling of the kings right from the Ming Dynasty to the Qing Dynasty acting so since 500 years. Today, the Forbidden City is a compound of around 980 edifices that are intact and reflect great traditional Chinese architecture. This is the only complex in the nation, which holds the highest number of ancient wooden buildings on the planet and is also undoubtedly the UNESCO World Heritage site.

The Forbidden City tour of Beijing in China will make you stroll in a rectangular manner as the plan of the complex is in that shape. Regarded as the heart of the walled city of Beijing, the Forbidden City is nestled in a bigger walled area that is termed as the Imperial City. Further, this Imperial City is itself located in the Inner City as well as Outer City. For the tourists, the Forbidden City tour is now a trip to the Palace Museum where a myriad of artwork collections of both two dynasties are well exhibited. Your entire expedition here is as per the following main divisions.

  • The Meridian Gate
  • Gate of Divine Might

  • East and West Glorious gates
  • Gate of Supreme Harmony
  • Corner towers
  • Hall of Supreme Harmony
  • Hall of Literary Glory

  • Hall of Military Eminence
  • Hall of Mental Cultivation
  • Southern Three Places
  • Imperial Garden

  • Palace of Heavenly Purity
  • Palace of Tranquil Longevity

The Forbidden City of Beijing in China is surrounded by a towering wall as well as a wide and profound moat. Its four corners are adorned with the corner towers that are visible from the outside of walls symbolizing the Yellow Crane Pavilion and the Pavilion of Prince Teng as per the paintings of the Song Dynasty. The south of the complex is the venue of the Meridian Gate, while the north holds the Gate of Divine Might looking at the Jingshan Park. On the other hand, the east and west gates are commonly called as the East Glorious Gate and West Glorious Gate. Leaving behind the East Gate, all the other gates are decorated with a 9×9 set of gilded door nails.

For the purpose of easy Forbidden City tour, the entire complex is divided into two sections: the Inner Court holding the residence of the kings in the north and the Outer Court packed with the monuments for ceremonies.

Outer Court

In order to explore the Outer Court, make an entry from the Meridian Gate that is a big doorway with two wings as well as five gateways. After this, you will come across a huge square split by the Inner Golden Water River that can be crossed by any of the five bridges. Behind this, pass through the Gate of Supreme Harmony to be at the Hall of Supreme Harmony Square. Herein, look for a three-tiered white marble terrace adorned with the famous three halls – the Hall of Supreme Harmony, the Hall of Preserving Harmony, and the Hall of Central Harmony.

The largest of its kind in China is the Hall of Supreme Harmony where the royals used to perform various ceremonial activities. There are nine wide as well as five deep bays in which the figures 13 and 20 emblematically are associated with the ruler’s pride. Inside this hall, look on the ceiling where an intricate caisson is decorated with a curved dragon carrying chandelier-like balls of metal forming up the Xuanyuan Mirror.

The Hall of Central Harmony is square in layout wherein the emperor has to prepare himself for the ceremonies with some refreshing breaks. Behind this is the Hall of Preserving Harmony where ceremonies were rehearsed and the last stage of the Imperial test was executed. The middle ceremonial ramps exhibit bas-reliefs. To the south west and south east, Military Eminence hall for holding ministers and Literary Glory that is a printing house can be seen. In the northeast is the Southern Three Places that was the residence of the Crown Prince.

Inner Court

This is in the middle and holds three halls – Palace of Heavenly Purity, the Palace of Earthly Tranquility, and Hall of Union.

The Palace of Heavenly Purity refers to a double-eaved building associated with the Gate of Heavenly Purity, which was the residence of the Emperor. In the past, a belief was common that the Emperor represents the Heavens and Yang and so he was supposed to stay here. Later, this residing place of the Emperor shifted to the smaller Hall of Mental Cultivation after which this palace was transformed into the audience hall.

The Palace of Earthly Tranquility was the abode of the Empress as she was believed to be the symbol of the Yin and Earth. It is in between these two palaces that the Hall of Union resides, which is a square structure holding a pyramidal roof of 25 Royal Seals of the Qing Dynasty. It is so called because it was the meeting place of the Yang and Yin for ensuring harmony.

At the back of these halls, Imperial Garden stretches its beauty with its several elaborate landscapes. While in the north, the Gate of Divine Might welcomes one to be at the north gate of the palace.

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