The Forbidden City was once home to the emperors of China during the Ming and Qing dynasties. Named the Forbidden City, the people of China were truly forbidden to enter in unless they had the emperor's permission. Today it is also called Gugong and the Palace Museum. Located in Beijing, the Forbidden City is now a public museum as is one of the main tourist attractions in the entire world.
History of the Forbidden City
In the early 1400's, the Yongle Emperor named Beijing as the new capital of China. He was the third emperor of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). Construction began in 1406 on the Forbidden City and lasted until 1420. This was to be the new Imperial Palace. It is said that more than one million workers labored over the construction. Stone, timber, and other materials were freighted in from distant lands. Many inventive skills went in the erection of the great palace. The red city wall was made at such an angle that it was impossible to climb. The base was 28 feet and narrowed down to 21 feet at the top. The bricks were made from glutinous rice and lime and the mortar was made from glutinous rice and egg whites. The materials made the structure very strong. It is also said that in order to transport the huge stones needed for the palace, the workers waited for winter and poured water on the road to make an icy slope in which to roll down the stones.
The Forbidden City was home to 24 emperors from 1420 to 1912. It lasted through the Ming and Qing dynasties until 1912 when the last emperor of China, Puyi, was abdicated. Puyi was allowed to remain in the Inner Court until he was evicted after a 1924 coup. The Palace Museum was then established.
In 1987, UNESCO named the Forbidden City a World Heritage Site because of its significance in Chinese culture and architecture.
Description of the Forbidden City
The Forbidden City is the largest palace complex in the world that is still standing. It was meant to be the center of Beijing and is enclosed by another walled area called the Imperial City. It covers 72 hectares, consists of 980 buildings, and over 8,500 rooms. It is rectangular in shape and measures 3,150 feet north to south and 2,470 feet east to west. A 26 feet high wall surrounds the entire city, as does a 20 foot moat.
The Forbidden City consists of an Outer and Inner Court. The Outer Court, or southern section, is where the emperor ruled over his people and was used for ceremonial purposes. The Outer Court is home to the Hall of Supreme Harmony, Hall of Central Harmony, and the Hall of Preserving Harmony. The Hall of Supreme Harmony is the largest of the three and this building was used to discuss affairs of state. The Hall of Central Harmony was used by the emperor to prepare for and rest during ceremonies. The Hall of Preserving Harmony was used for rehearsing ceremonies and was the final stage for the Imperial exam. The Inner Court is separated from the Outer Court by a courtyard. This was the home to the emperor and his family.
Yellow is the symbol for the royal family so much of the palace is in this color. Roofs were made with yellow tiles and bricks were made yellow, too. The only roof in the entire palace that wasn't yellow was the royal library, or Wenyuange; it was black. Black represented water and so it was thought that it could help prevent fires.
Today anyone can tour the great city and view the magnificent architecture and rich history.