The Forbidden City
At the heart of Beijing lies the Forbidden City, meticulously designed, a city that reflects its philosophical and religious values and a symbol of imperial power. With the emperor’s yellow on roof tiles and halls arranged to represent heaven and earth, the planning is down to the finest detail. It is now considered China’s most splendid architectural complex.
Within is a unique collection of preserved buildings and temples decorated by traditional Chinese art.
The city has been the centre of China’s rule for nearly 500 years in which time 24 emperors ruled. It is enclosed by an outside wall around its perimeter with large gates protecting its entrances. While today only about 50% of the city is open to the public, the area within is larger than most presume. The total area of the City is approximately 72 hectares! It is suggested that you put aside a good three to four hours for your visit to give you a chance to see the main attractions.
Don’t miss out on seeing the Golden Water River that treads through the city which symbolises the five cardinal virtues of Confucianism, the Hall of Supreme Harmony used for celebrating major occasions, and the Gate of Supreme Harmony which was originally built for the purpose of receiving visitors. While walking through the Palace, be sure to spot the Gate of Heavenly Purity which is found in the Inner Court. With so many buildings and temples, there is plenty to see from the Hall of Supreme Harmony to the Palace of Tranquil Longevity.
The Forbidden City is now a world heritage site housing the world’s largest collection of ancient wooden structures and palace complex. Consisting of 980 ancient buildings, it is now the home of the Palace Museum and one of the word’s most popular tourist attractions.
Entry into the Forbidden City changes on the season with prices higher between April and October than between November and March. If you wish to see the Treasure gallery and the Clock and Watch galleries you will need to pay extra.
If you are not travelling on a tour or in a group, getting to the City can be done via the subway line 1 (getting off at the Tiananmen West or East Station) or subway 2 (getting off at the Qianmen station). Once at the Forbidden City, it is very useful to join a tour to get the most out of your trip. This way you are likely to get a lot more understanding and detail about what you are seeing.
For a pre-depiction of the Forbidden City, watch The Forbidden City (an early nineties film) and The Last Emperor (the first to be filmed inside the Forbidden City).