Get close to the glorious history of China and the country’s enigmatic folklore as you enter the Forbidden City. It is not only one of the well-preserved imperial palaces in the world but also a precious testimony to the Chinese culture and civilization during the Ming and Qing Dynasties. This grand and gigantic palace complex seems to have a heavily guarded past to which the common people have no access. The emperors’s residence with magnificent watchtowers evokes a sense of respect.
The colossal palace of the Forbidden City is the former royal abode of the 14 Emperors of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) and 10 Emperors of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). Ming Emperor Zhu Di got this grand palace constructed between 1406 and 1420 AD. The Chinese Republic overthrew the last Qing Emperor in 1911 and brought the palace under the direct control of Chinese government.
Facts about Forbidden City
- The Forbidden City has come to be known as The Purple Forbidden City, Gùgōng Bówùguǎn, Gù Gōng, The Palace Museum and Forbidden City over the 600 years of history.
- The Palace Museum is the largest palace complex in the world. It is spread over an area of 74 hectares.
- This palace complex has nearly 10,000 rooms, 980 buildings, and 90 palaces and courtyards.
- The Palace Museum was listed as ‘an important historical monument’ under the special preservation of the Chinese government in 1961.
- In 1987, UNESCO designated the Forbidden City as a World Heritage Site. It is one of those very few sites which have been given the World Heritage Site status as per all four criteria.
- The Forbidden City also enjoys a rare place amongst the ‘Five Most Important Palaces in the World.’ The other four are The Buckingham Palace (UK), Palace of Versailles (France), The White House (US), and the Kremlin (Russia).
Things to Do in Forbidden City
Known as ‘The Gate of Heavenly Peace’, the Tiananmen is the gateway to the Forbidden City. You walk across the brick-paved way to reach the Meridian Gate (Wumen) – the main entry point – before reaching the Golden Stream Bridge that connects the Outer Court to the Inner Court.
The Outer Court comprises three main buildings – Hall of Preserving Harmony, Hall of Central Harmony, and Hall of Supreme Harmony. These halls were witnesses to the major ceremonies attended by the erstwhile Emperors. The Hall of Supreme Harmony is the first, the largest, and the most important of these. This is where the Dragon throne of the Emperor lies.
The Hall of Central Harmony is where the Emperor would rest before conducting major ceremonies in the Hall of Supreme Harmony. Before heading to the Temple of Heaven for the sacrifice rituals, the Emperors would rehearse their presentations in this hall.
Explore the Hall of Preserving Harmony, which the Emperors and their administrators used for banquets. Then head to the nearby side gardens for a leisurely walk. An enormous block of marble encounters you on the way. Visitors also prefer to walk to the Gate of Heavenly Peace – the gateway to the Inner Court.
The Inner Court also consists of three main courts – the Palace of Heavenly Peace, the Palace of Terrestrial Tranquility, and the Palace of Union and Peace. The Palace of Heavenly Peace is the first in the Inner Court that served as the sleeping quarters for the Emperors. The wedding ceremonies of the Emperors used to be performed in the Palace of Terrestrial Tranquility. It’s interesting to see the imperial seals still being preserved in the Palace of Union and Peace.
The six eastern and six western palaces, which have been converted into exhibition halls, are worth exploring. The Imperial Garden and the Mental Cultivation Hall are a sudden shift from the gray and crimson surroundings of the complex. They give a luxuriant, colourful, and an aesthetic impression to the visitors.
If you are in Beijing, you have always so much to explore. Apart from the Forbidden City, Beijing is home to some of the splendid tourist attractions in the world such as The Great Wall of China, Tiananmen Square, Temple of Heaven, Summer Palace, Beijing Opera, and Hutongs.
Where is Forbidden City?
The Forbidden City is in the heart of the Chinese capital city of Beijing near Tiananmen Square.
Location Map of Forbidden City, China
How to Reach?
By Air – The Beijing Capital International Airport is just 31 km from the Forbidden City and it’s only a 50-minute drive to the palace complex.
By Rail – The Beijing Railway Station is around 4.5 km from the palace complex. A 13-minute drive from the railway station will get you there.
By Road – Being in the center of Beijing, there is no dearth of options and means of traveling by road to the Forbidden City. The place is well connected to the rest of Beijing by road.
Those you who are looking for luxury, Regent Beijing, Raffles Beijing Hotel, Grand Hotel Beijing, The Ritz Carlton, The Opposite House, and the Courtyard 7 are there to take care. The Graceland Yard Hotel, Jianguo Hotel, Grand Mercure Beijing Central, and Oriental garden Hotel are ideal for mid-range travelers. Budget accommodations such as Bamboo Garden Hotel, Hua Fu International Hotel, and 161 Lama Temple Courtyard Hotel ensure a pleasant stay.
Beijing is home to some of the China’s finest food joints offering mouth-watering delicacies. Little Yúnnán, Bǎihé Vegetarian Restaurant, Royal Icehouse, Lost Heaven, Lìqún Roast Duck Restaurant, Zhāng Māma, Yáng Fāng Lamb Hotpot, and Crescent Moon Muslim Restaurant are some of restaurants frequented by the visitors to the Forbidden City.
Best Time to Visit Forbidden City
The best time to visit the Forbidden City is from May to September when the temperatures remain absolutely pleasant. However, the city of Beijing receives a bit of rain during July and August.
8:30 am to 4 pm (May to September)
8:30 am to 3:30 pm (October to April)
Closed on Mondays
60 Chinese Yen (April to October)
40 Chinese Yen (November to March)
Things to Remember
The Forbidden City (or the Palace Museum) remains closed for public from August 22 to September 3 because of the National Day Military Parade preparations.
Image Credit: KallganPublished On: Monday, September 7th, 2015