Forbidden City Beijing

Forbidden City Beijing: Exploring China’s Imperial Palace

LocationBeijing, China
NameForbidden City (also known as the Palace Museum)
PurposeImperial palace and political center during the Ming and Qing dynasties
ConstructionBuilt between 1406 and 1420, took over 14 years to complete
SizeCovers an area of 72 hectares (180 acres)
LayoutConsists of over 980 buildings and 8,700 rooms
ArchitectureFeatures traditional Chinese architecture, including sloping roofs, red and gold decorations, and intricate carvings
Notable BuildingsHall of Supreme Harmony, Hall of Central Harmony, Hall of Preserving Harmony, Imperial Garden, and Palace of Heavenly Purity
CollectionsHouses over 1.8 million cultural relics, including paintings, calligraphy, ceramics, and jade
RestorationHas undergone multiple restoration projects since its construction, most recently from 2002 to 2020
UNESCO World Heritage SiteDesignated as a World Heritage Site in 1987
Tourist VisitsReceives over 14 million visitors annually
Main Information about the Forbidden City Beijing
Forbidden City Beijing

The Forbidden City is a monumental palace complex situated in the heart of Beijing, China. It was once the exclusive domain of China’s emperors, and for over 500 years, it served as the center of power and governance in the world’s most populous country. The palace is renowned for its imposing architecture, intricate design, and cultural significance, making it a must-visit attraction for anyone traveling to China. In this article, we will explore the history, architecture, art, and culture of the Forbidden City and provide you with a comprehensive guide to experiencing this fascinating site.

History of the Forbidden City Beijing

Ladders of Forbidden City Beijing

The Forbidden City Beijing was built in the early 15th century by the third emperor of the Ming Dynasty, Emperor Yongle. He moved the capital of China from Nanjing to Beijing and decided to build a grand palace complex that would be the center of his empire. The construction of the Forbidden City took over a decade, and it involved the labor of over a million workers. The palace was designed to be a symbol of the emperor’s power, and it was meant to awe his subjects and intimidate his enemies.


The architecture of the Forbidden City is a testament to the grandeur and sophistication of the Chinese imperial style. The palace complex covers an area of 72 hectares and consists of over 900 buildings, which are arranged in a precise symmetrical pattern. The buildings are made of wood and feature ornate details and decorations. The Forbidden City is divided into two main sections: the outer court and the inner court. The outer court was where the emperor conducted official business, while the inner court was reserved for his family and concubines.

Most Notable Buildings in the Forbidden City

The Forbidden City Beijing is a massive complex with over 980 buildings, covering an area of 720,000 square meters. It’s divided into two parts: the Outer Court and the Inner Court. The Outer Court was where the emperor exercised his power over the nation, while the Inner Court was his home and private living quarters.

Outer Court

  • Gate of Supreme Harmony: The largest and most important gate in the Forbidden City, used for important ceremonies such as the emperor’s enthronement and birthday celebrations.
  • Hall of Supreme Harmony: The largest and most important building in the Forbidden City, used for imperial court meetings and grand ceremonies.
  • Hall of Central Harmony: A smaller hall used for rehearsing ceremonies and storing imperial regalia.
  • Hall of Preserving Harmony: Another smaller hall used for imperial examinations and as a venue for hosting banquets.
  • Palace of Heavenly Purity: The official residence of the emperor during the Ming and Qing dynasties, where he would hold audiences with his officials and meet with foreign dignitaries.

Inner Court

  • Palace of Heavenly Purity: After the Ming Dynasty, the Palace of Heavenly Purity became the emperor’s living quarters and was where he would handle his daily affairs.
  • Palace of Earthly Tranquility: The empress’s living quarters and the site of the emperor’s wedding night ritual.
  • Palace of Union and Peace: A residential palace for the emperor’s concubines and the site of many imperial banquets.
  • Imperial Garden: A large garden complex with pavilions, rockeries, ponds, and a variety of plants and trees. It was designed as a private retreat for the emperor and his family.

These are just a few of the many buildings within the Forbidden City Beijing, which is truly a marvel of Chinese architecture and history.

Art and Culture

The Forbidden City is not just a palace complex; it is also a repository of China’s rich cultural heritage. The palace houses an extensive collection of art and artifacts, including porcelain, paintings, calligraphy, and bronze. The art and artifacts on display offer a glimpse into the lives of China’s emperors and the culture of the Chinese court. In addition to the art and artifacts, the Forbidden City also features numerous gardens, pavilions, and courtyards, which are perfect for strolling and taking in the beauty and tranquility of the palace complex.


Why is the Forbidden City so important to Chinese history?

The Forbidden City was the imperial palace for over 500 years and served as the political and ceremonial center of the Chinese government. It was home to 24 emperors and played a significant role in shaping China’s history and culture.

What are some of the most famous buildings or features in the Forbidden City?

Some of the most famous buildings in the Forbidden City include the Hall of Supreme Harmony, the Palace of Heavenly Purity, and the Imperial Garden. Other notable features include the Nine Dragon Screen and the Stone Carvings of Cloud and Dragon.

How long did it take to build the Forbidden City?

Construction of the Forbidden City began in 1406 during the Ming Dynasty and was completed in 1420. It took approximately 14 years and involved over a million workers.

Are there any interesting myths or legends associated with the Forbidden City?

Yes, there are many myths and legends associated with the Forbidden City. One popular legend is that the palace was built without a single nail, while another suggests that there is a network of secret tunnels beneath the complex.

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