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Forbidden City

International Recognition

  • In 1961 the Forbidden City was listed as an important historical monument under Chinese central government special preservation.
  • In 1987, it was nominated as World Cultural Heritage by UNESCO. The Palace Museum is a treasure house of Chinese cultural and historical relics.
  • It is recognized as one of the most important five palaces in the world (the other four are the Palace of Versailles in France, Buckingham Palace in the UK, the White House in the US, and the Kremlin in Russia).
Location :Chang'an Street in Dongcheng District, Beijing (the center of Beijing city).
Admission Fee:CNY 40 (Nov. 1 to the next Mar. 31); CNY 60 (Apr. 1 to Oct. 31); CNY 10 for the Treasure Gallery; CNY 10 for the Clock and Watch Gallery
Recommended Time for a Visit:3-4 hours
Opening Hours:08:30 to 16:30 (Nov. 1 - the next Mar. 31); tickets not available after 15:30 and last entry at 15:40.
08:30 to 12:00 (Monday, Nov. 1 - the next Mar. 31); tickets not available after 11:00 and last entry at 11:10.
08:30 to 17:00 (Apr. 1- Oct.31); tickets not available after 16:00 and last entry at 16:10.

How to Get There

1)Subway Line 1: get off at Tiananmen West or Tiananmen East Station, walk north through the Tiananmen Tower (Gate of Heavenly Peace), and then you'll find the Meridian Gate (south gate)
2)Subway Line 2: get off at Qianmen Station and walk north through the Tiananmen Tower.
3)Take bus 101, 103, 109, 124, 202, 685 or 814 and get off at Gugong Station.
4)Take bus 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 52, 120 or 802 and get off at Tiananmen Xi or Tiananmen Dong Station, walk north through the Tiananmen Tower (Gate of Heavenly Peace), and then you'll find the Meridian Gate (south gate).
5)Take bus 9, 17, 44, 48, 59, 66, 803, 808or Tuanjiehu Special Line and get off at Qianmen, Qianmen Xi, or Qianmen Dong Station, and walk north through Tiananmen Square and you'll find it in front of you.

Introduction

Lying at the city center and called Gu Gong in Chinese, it was the imperial palace for twenty-four emperors during the Ming and Qing dynasties. It was first built throughout 14 years during the reign of Emperor Chengzu in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). Ancient Chinese Astronomers believed that the Purple Star (Polaris) was in the center of heaven and the Heavenly Emperor lived in the Purple Palace. The Palace for the emperor on earth was so called the Purple City. It was forbidden to enter without special permission of the empeor. Hence its name 'The Purple Forbidden City', usually 'The Forbidden City'.

Now known as the Palace Museum, it is to the north of Tiananmen Square. Rectangular in shape, it is the world's largest palace complex and covers 74 hectares. Surrounded by a 52-meter-wide moat and a 10-meter-high wall are more than 8,700 rooms. The wall has a gate on each side. Opposite the Tiananmen Gate, to the north is the Gate of Divine Might (Shenwumen), which faces Jingshan Park. The distance between these two gates is 960 meters, while the distance between the east and west gates is 750 meters. There are unique and delicately structured towers on each of the four corners of the curtain wall. These afford views over both the palace and the city outside.

It is divided into two parts. The southern section, or the Outer Court was where the emperor exercised his supreme power over the nation. The northern section, or the Inner Court was where he lived with his royal family. Until 1924 when the last emperor of China was driven from the Inner Court, fourteen emperors of the Ming dynasty and ten emperors of the Qing dynasty had reigned here. Having been the imperial palace for some five centuries, it houses numerous rare treasures and curiosities. Listed by UNESCO as a World Cultural Heritage Site in 1987, the Palace Museum is now one of the most popular tourist attractions world-wide.

Construction of the palace complex began in 1407, the 5th year of the Yongle reign of the third emperor (Emperor Chengzu, Zhu Di) of the Ming dynasty. It was completed fourteen years later in 1420, and then the capital city was moved from Nanjing to Beijing the next year. It was said that a million workers including one hundred thousand artisans were driven into the long-term hard labor. Stone needed was quarried from Fangshan District. It was said a well was dug every fifty meters along the road in order to pour water onto the road in winter to slide huge stones on ice into the city. Huge amounts of timber and other materials were freighted from faraway provinces.

Ancient Chinese people displayed their very considerable skills in building it. Take the grand red city wall for example. It has an 8.6 meters wide base reducing to 6.66 meters wide at the top. The angular shape of the wall totally frustrates attempts to climb it. The bricks were made from white lime and glutinous rice while the cement is made from glutinous rice and egg whites. These incredible materials make the wall extraordinarily strong.

Since yellow is the symbol of the royal family, it is the dominant color in it. Roofs are built with yellow glazed tiles; decorations in the palace are painted yellow; even the bricks on the ground are made yellow by a special process. However, there is one exception. Wenyuange, the royal library, has a black roof. The reason is that it was believed black represented water then and could extinguish fire.

Nowadays, it is open to tourists from home and abroad. Splendid painted decoration on these royal architectural wonders, the grand and deluxe halls, with their surprisingly magnificent treasures will certainly satisfy 'modern civilians'.

History

The Forbidden City, situated in the very heart of Beijing, was home to 24 emperors of the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) Dynasties.
The construction of the grand palace started in the fourth year of Emperor Yongle of the Ming Dynasty (1406), and ended in 1420.
In ancient times, the emperor was said to be a son of Heaven, and therefore Heaven's supreme power was bestowed upon him. The emperors' residence on earth was built as a replica of the Purple Palace where God was thought to live in Heaven.
Names: Such a divine place was certainly forbidden to ordinary people and that is why the Forbidden City is so named. Originally called Zijin Cheng ('Purple Forbidden City'), in China now it is usually called Gugong , the 'Former/Old Palace'.

Features

To represent the supreme power of the emperor given from God, and the place where he lived being the center of the world, all the gates, palace and other structures of the Forbidden City were arranged about the north-south central axis of old Beijing.

For security the Forbidden City is enclosed by a 10-meter-high defensive wall, which has a circumference of 3, 430 meters. At each corner of the Forbidden City, there stands a magnificent watchtower, which was heavily guarded in the past. Around the city there is a moat as the first line of defense. See our Forbidden City Map.

The Forbidden City covers an area of about 72 hectares (178 acres) with a total floor space of approximately 150,000 square meters (1,600,000 square feet). It consists of 90 palaces and courtyards, 980 buildings and 8,704 rooms.

Special Notes:

From Jan. 1 to Mar. 31, 2013, the Forbidden City will be closed on the afternoon of every Monday (except the statutory holidays) for the examination and maintenance of the ancient palace architecture and the cultural relics. On Jan. 7th, 14th, 21st, 28th, Feb. 4th, 18th, 25th, and Mar. 4th, 11th, 18th, 25th, it will open from 8:30 to 12:00, with the ticketing time ending at 11:00 and the last entry at 11:10. Feb. 11th (Mon.), 2013 is the Jan. 2 according to the lunar calendar and a legal holiday of the Chinese Spring Festival, so the palace will be open for a whole day on that day.

It may restrain the number of passengers in peak holidays, such as the May Day, National Day Holiday in the first week of October and summer holiday. The number is limited up to 80,000/day during those periods, half-and-half for group and individual visitors. Some areas inside it may be closed at the same time. Please refer to the latest notice issued before the holidays.

The ticket office at the Gate of Divine Might (north gate) is closed. It carries out unidirectional itinerary. Visitors can only enter through the Meridian Gate (south gate) and leave from the Gate of Divine Might.

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