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Exploring the Forbidden City in Beijing...
Monday, September 20, 2010
2:54 AM


The title says it all... we visited the Forbidden City, known as Palace Museum (故宫)! which forms the very heart of Beijing. I believe the Forbidden City is in most tourist's visit list. It is perhaps the most famous and grandest, and most 壮观 of all the sights in China. The Forbidden City was built in 1406-1420 (14 years) and it served as the home of emperors and their households, as well as the ceremonial and political centre of Chinese government for almost 500 years. Forbidden City is extremely large, housing 980 buildings with almost 9000 rooms. To walk around everywhere you would need at least 2-3 days. But we took only 2-3 hours for a 961 metres walk, through the Meridian Gate (午门) to the Gate of Divine Prowess (神武門)...

Entering from the Meridian Gate,
The emperor would view
his armies and ceremonies from the balcony.

Gate of Supreme Harmony,

There were a lot of tourists at the Forbidden City, and they were mainly Chinese. I noted some Western tourists. But as compared to the number of Chinese, it is very little. Among the Chinese, I realised most of them are 中国人. This somehow surprised me, until 阿 MAY explained to me that most of their citizens themselves (even the elderly) have yet to visit all the attractions in China.

Chinese lions,

There were pairs of lions guarding the entrances of halls to ward off the evil spirits with their mighty looks. The male is portayed with an embroidered design ball under his paws, to show the emperor’s supreme power. While the female has a lion cub, to symbolize prosperity of the royal family’s off spring the fertility of the imperial family.

Architectural detail: Bracket (dougong),
It is a traditionally complex, nail-free,
and ornamental construction method that
transmits the load from roof to column.

The largest hall in the palace is Hall of Supreme Harmony. Inside sits the oranate throne used for major occasions...

The 24 metres high, double-eaved hall
was orginally used for receiving visitors.
Until during the Qing dynasty,
it was used for banquets.

阿 MAY, our tour guide (on the left);

Hall of Preserving Harmony,

Marble carriageway,
"The central ramp carved with
dragons chasing pearls among clouds
was for the emperor."

Bronze cauldrons,
...are everywhere throughout the Forbidden City,
in case of fire.

Gate of Heavenly Purity that leads to the Inner Court...

Palace of Heavenly Purity was used as the imperial sleeping quarters,

Palace of Earthly Tranquility was used as the living quarters of the Ming empresses,

In Imperial Gardens,

Exiting from Gate of Divine Prowess (神武門) is the northern gate of the Forbidden City that faces Jingshan Park (景山公园)...

The Moan,

The Forbidden City is AMAZING! in beauty and size. It's China's most magnificent architectural complex, which includes a front gate, four-sided courtyards, and a series of halls and palaces in a linear formation. I personally find it interesting to interpret the architectural details that are on the Chinese buildings. When I was in the Forbidden City, I have a sudden urge to do traces on the details. Even though there tends to be a sense of repetition. Aside, I was engrossed on the fascinating stories shared by 阿 MAY. It makes me want to learn more on everything that happened in the Forbidden City!!!

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