The Forbidden City was the royal palace of Ming and Qing dynasties.
It is also known as the Palace Museum . It is about 600 years old and
served as the home of the Emperors and their household from mid-Ming
dynasty to the end of the Qing dynasty. The Forbidden City was also the
ceremonial and political center of ancient Chinese government in Ming
and Qing dynasties. The Forbidden City was declared a World Heritage
Site in 1987 and listed as the largest collection of preserved ancient
wooden structures in the world by UNESCO.
The Forbidden City ( Beijing , China ) is a vivid exhibition of the
ancient Chinese wisdom of “Feng Shui”, the geomancy system in ancient
China that governed the architectures and buildings. The entire complex
contains about 9,000 rooms and covers 250 acres with a symmetrical and
hierarchically arrangement. All the important buildings in the complex
run down the center along north-south avenue with the main gate in the
The formality of the buildings with the immense courtyards, terraces
and stairways display an extraordinarily harmonious balance to carry out
the wisdom of “Feng Shui”. Emperors and their families of the Ming and
Qing dynasties ruled and lived within the walls of the Forbidden City
along with their hundreds of servants. All the male servants were
castrated before they were allowed to enter the palace. Ordinary Chinese
were not allowed inside the wall in ancient China . Hence its name,
“The Forbidden City.” When you get a chance to visit the Forbidden City
during China tour, you would be amazed by the perfect harmony that the
architecture presents. The buildings touch you with a good sense of
human scale, yet immersing with a long wealth of history, the image of
earthy power and majesty.
Overview of the Forbidden City ( Beijing China )
The Forbidden City was designed to be the center of the ancient
Beijing city. Yet it still remains important in the city plan of Beijing
today. The central north-south axis of the Forbidden City remains the
central axis of Beijing today. To the south, the central axis extends
through Tiananmen gate to Tiananmen Square . To the north, the central
axis extends through the Bell and Drum Towers to Yongdingmen. The most
important buildings are situated on this central north-south axis.
Walls and Gates of the Forbidden City ( Beijing China )
As a tourist visiting the Forbidden City during the China tour, you
would be impressed with the protection strategy that the Forbidden City
has built in. The city is surrounded by a 7.9 meter (8.6 yard) high wall
and a 6 meter (6.56 yard) deep, 53 meter (56.87 yard) wide moat. The
city wall was constructed with a rammed earth core and three layers of
specially baked bricks on both sides, with the interstices filled with
mortar. The wall has a gate on each side. The main Meridian Gate sits at
the southern side. The Gate of Divine Might faces Jingshan Park to the
north. East Glorious Gate and West Glorious Gate face to the east and
west respectfully. Three of those gates are decorated with 9 by 9 arrays
of golden door nails, while the East Glorious Gate has only eight rows.
The Meridian Gate, “Wumen” in Chinese, has five gateways. The central
gateway was part of the Imperial Way that reserved for the exclusive use
of the emperor. Even an empress was not granted the privilege of using
this central gateway except once in her life time, her wedding day. As a
highest honor, three finalists who achieved the highest awards in the
national examinations were permitted to come through this gateway to
meet with the emperor. This stone flagged path way forms the central
axis of the Forbidden City and the ancient Beijing city and leads all
the way from the Gate of China in the south to Jingshan in the north.
Layouts of the Forbidden City ( Beijing China )
The Forbidden City is divided into tow parts, the Outer Court and the
Inner Court . The Outer Court is also called Front Court which includes
the southern sections. Outer Court was used for ceremonial purposes.
The Inner Court is also called Back Palace which includes the northern
sections. The Inner Court was the residence of the Emperor and his
family's and was used for day-to-day affairs of state.
The First Courtyard in the Forbidden City ( Beijing , China ) – The
When tourists enter the Meridian Gate during China tour, one can see a
large courtyard with five bridges in it. The Inner Golden Water River
flows beneath the bridges. The five bridges carry the meanings of the
five Confucian virtues of humanity – duty, wisdom, reliability and
ceremonial propriety. The central bridge is reserved for emperors
exclusively. Across this courtyard stands the Gate of Supreme Harmony.
The Second Courtyard in the Forbidden City ( Beijing , China ) – The
Behind the Gate of Supreme Harmony is the largest courtyard in the
Forbidden City . There are three grand halls sitting on a raised white
marble terrace rising from this Courtyard. They are the Hall of Supreme
Harmony, the Hall of Central Harmony, and the Hall of Preserving
Harmony. The Hall of Supreme Harmony is the largest structure in the
Forbidden City and the largest surviving wooden structure in China . The
Hall of Supreme Harmony is the ceremonial center. Facing the largest
courtyard in the Forbidden City in the south, it can hold thousands of
The Hall of Central Harmony is the smallest of the three main halls
in the Outer Court . It has the shape of square rather than rectangular.
The Hall of Central Harmony served as a rest and preparation area
before and during the ceremonies. It was also used as a meeting place
for emperors and his high officials to discuss domestic events and
The Hall of Preserving Harmony is larger than the Hall of Central
Harmony but smaller than the Hall of Supreme Harmony. It sits on the
northern end of the white marble terrace of the Outer Court . The Hall
of Preserving Harmony was used for rehearsing ceremonies, practicing
speeches and banquets. It was also the place where final stage of
imperial examinations was held.
Behind the Hall of Preserving Harmony lies a huge marble stone ramp
carved with dragons and clouds. The carved ramp is placed between two
flights of marble stairs. The emperor was the only person allowed to
pass over the stone carving ramp. It weights more than 200 tons and is
the largest such carving in the China .
The Inner Court in the Forbidden City ( Beijing , China )
The Inner Court is the home for the Emperor and his family. The Inner
Court starts with the Gate of Celestial Purity. In front of the gate,
there is an oblong courtyard connects the Outer Court and the Inner
There are three halls form the center of the Inner Court – the Palace
of Heavenly Purity , Hall of Union, and the Palace of Earthly
Tranquility . Three halls are comparably smaller then those three halls
in the Outer Court . The Palace of Heavenly Purity was the official
residence of the Emperor who represented Yang and the Heavens. The
Palace of the Earthly Tranquility was occupied by the Empress who
represented Yin and the Earth. The Hall of Union between them
represented the place where the Yin and Yang meets to achieve harmony.
There are series of self-contained courtyards and minor palaces along
the east and west side of the three main halls in the Inner Court . The
Emperor's concubines and children lived in those places.
Imperial Garden sits behind those three halls. It is a relatively
small garden with compact yet elaborate landscaping design. The north
gate of the palace is the Gate of Divine Might stands at the north side
of the garden.