China is without a doubt saturated with fascinating travel destinations: the Great Wall of China, the Terracotta Army, Tiananmen Square, Yellow Mountain National Park, the Chengdu Panda Center, and the list goes on. There is beautiful scenery galore, enchanting architecture, sobering history, and exotic culture that make traveling to China a must for anyone looking at Asia. However, of all China tourist attractions, the one with the most allure, mystery, and imperial grandeur is The Forbidden City in Beijing.
WHAT IS THE FORBIDDEN CITY?
The Forbidden City is a city within the city of Beijing built to be the imperial palace in China. Originally built between the years of 1406-1420, the Forbidden City has been the residence of 24 emperors of China and their families and off limits to the common man, hence its name. The only way someone could ever enter the city was by the emperor’s express invitation. For hundreds of years, it was one of the most elusive places in China to visit.
WHEN WAS THE FORBIDDEN CITY OPENED TO THE PUBLIC?
In 1911 the last emperor abdicated the throne and in 1924 the Forbidden City was finally opened to the public. It is only within the last century that people have been able to set foot in this architectural wonder, making it a must-see destination for those interested in the history and culture of China.
WHAT IS THE LAYOUT OF THE FORBIDDEN CITY?
The city itself covers 720,000 square meters of land in the shape of a perfect rectangle. It is surrounded by a wall that is 10 meters high and a moat that is 52 meters wide. Within the walls of the city there are over 800 buildings (temples, palaces, etc.), as well as rivers, lakes, and gardens. Between all the buildings in the city, there is a total of 8,707 rooms. Of all the places in China to visit, this complex will certainly require a lot more time to explore than your average China tourist attraction!
5 INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT CHINA’S FORBIDDEN CITY
- Every place in the city has a super cool name, for example: the Palace of Heavenly Purity, Palace of Earthly Tranquility, Gate of Divine Might, Palace of Supreme Harmony, etc.
- Thought was given to every aspect of the city’s construction. For example, due to the importance of the number 9 in Chinese culture, every single door in the complex contains 9 rows of 9 nails (with the exception of the Donghua Gate).
- Toilets were never a part of the city’s original design. They did however use ornately engraved bedpans made of wood or metal. The intricacy of the design depended on your level of importance. Who would have thought bedpans would ever be a status symbol!
- It took roughly 100,000 artisans and a million workers to complete the Forbidden City in a span of 14 years.
- The Palace Museum within the city contains nearly 1 million artifacts from the Ming and Qing Dynasties! That makes it one of the largest museums in the world.
YOUR TOUR OF CHINA 2015
If you are planning on traveling to China and visiting the Forbidden City, be aware that the city is open to the public between 8:30am-4:00pm and is closed on Mondays. There are guides available that “speak English” on site you can hire, but to be perfectly honest, it is better to go with an English-speaking guide from your travel company that is knowledgeable about the city. Also make sure you plan more than an hour or two to explore the city; there is so much to see! A tour of China would be incomplete without a visit to this prime example of history and culture in China. The Forbidden City has been a centerpiece of the country for the last 600 years; make it the centerpiece of your vacation in China as well!
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