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The Forbidden City: The Magnificent Museum

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The amazing history of another time. And a testament to the details of Chinese architecture.

CHINESE-FORBIDDEN CITY

CHINESE-FORBIDDEN CITY

Meridian Gate to the Forbidden City

Meridian Gate to the Forbidden City

The Ancient Forbidden City of Beijing, China

Imagine walking the palace floors where Chinese emperors, concubines, and enmuches walked over six hundred years ago. Hard to imagine, but no one was allowed to enter or leave without the emperor's express permission.

Today, the Forbidden City was listed on the World Heritage in 1987 and by UNESCO as the largest collection of the preserved ancient wooden structures globally. The museum has over 14 million visitors per year, making it the most visited museum.

The sprawling structures were built by Emperor Chengza of the Ming Dynasty, consisting of 7,800,000 square feet, and is the largest museum in the world. It took fourteen years and one million workers to complete the construction. Over 100,00 artisans and specialized craftsmen working within the Forbidden City. Material from all over China was used, including the rare Phoebe Zhenman trees and huge marble blocks.

The craftsmanship and detail are found throughout the museum and in every part of the buildings with carvings inside and on the buildings. The museum is stunning, remarkable, and colorful.

There are 9999 rooms on the 178 acres consisting of 90 palaces and 980 buildings. Built in 1406 by the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644 and the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).

The city is surrounded by a thirteen-foot deep moat and with four towers at each corner for further protection. There is only one entrance to the city and only one exit. When the Forbidden City was designed, it adhered to Chinese codes. Some of those codes were:

  • All buildings face south, as it stood for holiness.
  • All roofs to be of yellow tile, symbolizing power
  • Ceremonial Buildings arranged in groups of three, representing heaven
  • Numbers nine and five representing the majesty of the emperor
  • The roof of the library was black, symbolizing water to protect the writings.

It was not until the year 1601 before any Westerner was allowed into the Forbidden City. Emperor Wanli (1152-1610) invited Italian Jesuit Matte Ricci to come and see him. It was because of Ricci's skill as a mathematician and cartographer that he was afforded this honor. Ricci then established the first Catholic Church in Beijing and contributed so much to the Chinese culture and people.

Forbidden Stream

Forbidden Stream

Map of the Forbidden City

Map of the Forbidden City

A Throne in the Forbidden City

A Throne in the Forbidden City

Four Watchtowers

Four Watchtowers

The Incredible Works of Art

The endless ancient works of art within the Forbidden City are astonishing, and many are over a thousand years old. Over 1.8 million pieces of priceless art, ceramics, jade, writings, and rare calligraphy examples. There are over 340,000 pieces of ceramics and porcelain—some from the Tang and Song dynasties. Paintings total 50,000 and 400 days before the yuan Dynasty (1271-1368)—bronze items from 221 B.C.

There are over 1000 pieces of mechanical timepieces from Britain, France, Switzerland, the USA, and Japan.

The film, The Last Emperor, was filmed inside the Forbidden City. The first-ever allowed to do so. The filming took eight weeks to complete. The film won two Academy Awards and is excellent and not to be missed. Many books have been written about the Forbidden City, and one suggested is Forbidden City, 1990 by William Bell. He gives a detailed description of the insides of the Forbidden City.

When visiting the museum, it is suggested to purchase your tickets online to avoid the crowds at the gate and wear comfortable walking shoes. The peak time for visitors is April through October, and the off-season is from November through March. It is again suggested allowing one or two days for a full sigh-seeing visit. Using a group tour is beneficial with their knowledge of the history and culture of the museum.

Recently. the QIANLONG GARDEN was opened to the public. This part of the museum was built by the 4th emperor of the Qing Dynasty in 1771-1776 that was to be used for his retirement complex.


Qianlong Garden

Qianlong Garden

The moat surrounding the Forbidden City

The moat surrounding the Forbidden City

Blue Porceline

Blue Porceline

Nine Dragons Carving

Nine Dragons Carving

Comments

fran rooks (author) from Toledo, Ohio on January 28, 2021:

Rosina, thank you for your comments and visit. I appreciate it very much.

Rosina S Khan on January 27, 2021:

It was great to know about the Forbidden City, its history and the current museum. I enjoyed reading it. The illustrations are eye-catching. Thanks for the wonderful share, Fran.

fran rooks (author) from Toledo, Ohio on January 27, 2021:

MG, thanks for your visit. I envy you since you have visited. Sorry about your problems but I can sympathize with you I can imagine it would be scary. I do appreciate your visit, thanks again..

fran rooks (author) from Toledo, Ohio on January 27, 2021:

Thelma, thank you so much for your visit. I too wish I could visit this marvel.

Thelma Alberts from Germany on January 27, 2021:

How I wish I can visit The Forbidden City. Thanks for sharing this very interesting and informative article.

MG Singh emge from Singapore on January 27, 2021:

This is a very nice article on the forbidden city in China. Luckily I've been to this place twice and it does have a very soothing effect but I had unpleasant memories also, with the Chinese who are in power now but I will leave that out.

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