at the center of Beijing, the Forbidden City, called Gu Gong in
Chinese, was the imperial palace during the Ming and Qing dynasties.
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 six meter deep moat and
a ten meter high wall are 9,999 buildings. The wall has a gate on
each side. Opposite the Tiananmen Gate, to the north is the Gate
of Devine Might (Shenwumen), which faces Jingshan Park. The distance
between these two gates is 960 meters, while the distance between
the gates in the east and west walls 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. The Forbidden City 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
Construction of the palace complex began in 1407, the 5th year of
the Yongle reign of the third emperor of the Ming dynasty. It was
completed fourteen years later in 1420. 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,
a suburb of Beijing. 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 the
Forbidden City. 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 the Forbidden City. 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, the Forbidden City, or the Palace Museum 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'.
In addition, the following services can also be enjoyed here.