Results 11-20of 25 Reviews
May 28, 2005
I really wanted to think that this was a city built in the 1400s, but in reality, most of the buildings are post-18th century. Certainly the site is original, but most of the buildings were regularly destroyed by fire (accidental or intentional), and the massive "fire buckets" that circle the buildings would have proved totally inept for dousing the flames. Despite the rebuilding, it’s really not too difficult to imagine the privileged lifestyle that was enjoyed by the emperor and his chosen ones. I’m not sure I’d go for the life of a eunuch, despite the fact that the chief eunuch was highly valued by the emperor.
We gazed at the wonderful workmanship that had ensured that every minute detail had been created in perfection, and I shall never forget the comment we heard as we were looking at one of the emperor’s rooms. I was admiring the decorations and intricate carving on one of the emperor’s thrones when a loud voice remarked, "It’s just a chair. What more can you say!" The same person was probably dismissive of the giant carving that had been dragged to the city on a bed of ice – no mere feat in my view.
All the buildings in the complex had a dedicated purpose, and many are in the process of being restored to their former glory. Although this can detract from the splendour of the Forbidden City, we could not help but admire the diligence of the workforce as they used simple tools to rebuild parts of this precious heritage. The roofs of the important buildings, bordered with no less than 10 figurines and colourful patterned ceilings supported by decorated pillars, were the features of the buildings. Outside, on the ornate terraces with their vast sundials and incredible statues, we had commanding views of the courtyards and a preview of the next impressive building.
We were impressed with the imperial gardens on the northwest and northeast of the complex. They were prefect reflections of each other, and the twisted trees, curvaceous walkways, and "perilous hills" gave a surreal feel to the place. Ornate pagodas were built over gently flowing streams, and despite the crowds, it was still possible to find a quiet haven.
From journal The Bustle of Central Beijing
London, United Kingdom
March 3, 2005
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, 14 emperors of the Ming Dynasty and 10 emperors of the Qing Dynasty reigned here.
Having been the imperial palace for some 5 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 worldwide.
A definite must-see!
From journal Crazy in Beijing
swindon, United Kingdom
February 17, 2005
Being there in late January and three years away from the Olympics, they were doing a lot of renovation work, so parts were blocked off, with a lot of work going on.
However, although this hampered my photography, it didn't hamper my enjoyment. Once they have finished, the new paint work will really bring the temples and buildings to life.
I was slighty disappointed that the temples did not have much furniture in them. I realize that real relics might not be available, but replicas would have been good to get a better feel for how the space would have been used.
From journal Site Seeing While on Business
April 4, 2004
So I can't say much about the history of the place, but it's just incredible. It's the city that's depicted in the Disney movie Mulan. The furnishings and displays inside the buildings are just as exotic as the outside. I did not see this myself, but I heard that Mao must be rolling over in his grave because somewhere in the Forbidden City there is now a Starbucks! Let me know if you find it.
From journal Night Train to Beijing
May 31, 2003
This is located north of Tiananmen Square and the Palace Museum takes up quite a big space . . . the outer walls are about 1km by 0.75km in size and this was once the home of the emperor, the empress, concubines, eunuchs and so on. We bought tickets to the museum for 40RMB (about €5) and for another 40RMB and my driver’s licence as a deposit, we rented audio guides that helped us with information throughout the museum. It was kinda funny to listen to the audio guide because the information was being narrated by James Bond, eh, I mean Roger Moore. :-) It was certainly handy as not all the signs went into as much historical detail. We were lucky enough to have great weather this day -- the blue skies made the yellow roof tiles looked even more majestic. The Forbidden City was overwhelming -– in size and historical facts -– which I could bombard you with but I think that I will summarise by saying that it was a great experience In my opinion, this place can be compared to other magnificent buildings such as Versailles. And with names like Gate of Supreme Harmony, Hall of Protective Harmony and Hall of Heavenly Peace you know that this was a place fit for an emperor.
The only negative thing about the Forbidden City, that I can think of, was that on a few occasions we were approached by "Chinese art students" claiming that they would have an exhibition in Norway soon and they wanted us to come along to look at their paintings to get feedback and new ideas. We never did go along to see what it was all about so I can’t really comment on it. :-) I was also surprised to see that a majority of the Forbidden City’s visitors were part of Chinese tour groups, either following a flag holding tour leader or browsing about in matching hats.
From journal A week in Beijing
April 19, 2003
The first local we encountered upon getting out of the taxi was offering us the opportunity to check out some authentic Chinese paintings and give our opinions. We declined and headed off to get our entrance tickets, which amounted to RMB40 each.
We then decided that an audio guide would come in handy, as the available maps with information were only in Mandarin. And so it came to be that we were accompanied by the suave voice of Roger Moore on our walk through the Imperial Palace.
Roger seemed to have a comment about all the parts of the Imperial Palace, which came as a bombardment of information in addition to our guidebook. This is a city on its own -- as I imagine the Vatican to be. The daily life was so secluded and controlled that one wonders if the Emperor was keeping the world out or if the world was keeping him in. In the case of the last Emperor, he was definitely being kept captive in the city.
Together with groups of Chinese tourists, we explored the parts of the city that were open. I was in total awe of the immensity of the entire structure -- and we had only walked the parts that were still standing. The names of the different structures were amusing and impressive at once, such as The Hall of Heavenly Peace. One aspect of the history of the city that fascinates me is the Empress Dowager Ci'xi and the very meaning of the Emperial line to the Chinese.
Unfortunately, because of the Chinese habit to stroke artifacts for good luck, all the Halls are either closed or cordoned off, making it difficult to take good photos of the Emperor's throne.
The Forbidden City, like Versailles, also has its own form of magnificence. Once one reads more about the inhabitants of the Forbidden City and Versailles, the similarities become all the more alike than different. The most unfortunate aspect is that most of the city's treasures are scattered throughout the world and that there were no impressive displays available for us to gawk at.
From journal Historical Emersion in Beijing
Hamilton Square, New Jersey
October 24, 2002
After the color and grandeur of the Grand Palace in Bangkok, the Forbidden City seemed a bit "flat" at first glance. But then, I started to notice the subtleties: the fine decorations at the top of buildings, the care with which the buildings were maintained close to their original condition (even down to the colors of paint).
I remember the first time I saw the film The Last Emperor and the view of the Forbidden City that opens up as the camera moved through the gates onto the first courtyard. This is one of the most interesting features of the City: you actually move through a series of gates and courtyards, each more grand than the one before. During Imperial times, you would move through the grounds in this manner, getting ever closer to the chamber in which the Emperor would (occassionally) hold court and meet ambassadors and important guests.
The buildings are mostly made of wood, and this is the reason for the large cauldrons located throughout the courtyards. While I did hear a mother or two making ominous comments to overly-boisterous children about boiling oil used as a punishment, these pots were actually used to store water in case of fire. They were made of iron so that fires could be lit under them to prevent the water from freezing during the cold Beijing winters.
After you pass through the main section of buildings, there is a lovely park and there are some pagodas which I believe you can climb to to get a panoramic view. One of the bad things about large group travel is that you live by the bus's departure time and so we weren't able to explore these areas. Leave yourself a half-day or so to see the entire palace and grounds. It's time well spent.
From journal MBA Students on the Loose in Beijing
by John Lamb
Colorado Springs, Colorado
February 18, 2002
Entrance was provided by the tour I was on, but for your information it costs 32 Yuan. The gates close for entrance at 3:30 and the whole palace shuts down at 4:30. You can get an audio tour and listen to James Bond (Roger Moore) give you the historical background of the temple.
The palace is huge and it is quite a joy to walk through all of it, although maybe a bit overwhelming. If entering from the Wumen entrance, the first major ceremonial hall you see is so huge and beautiful it is hard to grasp that you are actually witnessing it. One can take two rolls of film halfway through the city and not even begin to capture how wonderful the palace is.
My favorite section of the entire palace was the Imperial Garden. Twisted, black branches spring from numerous trees and intermix with jagged rock. There are a few little ponds spotted throughout. We stopped at a tea house there and enjoyed some hot tea (about 40 yuan) while enjoying the scene. There are also some ponds and pavilions to add to the beauty. The best part is Hall of Imperial Tranquillity in the middle of the garden that sits high on a mountain of rock. This is where the emperor Xuan Wu came worship a water diety to keep the palace safe from fire.
The Forbidden City is must-see if spending any time in Beijing.
From journal Beijing Over Chinese New Year
September 29, 2001
From journal The Trip to China in 2001
March 25, 2001
From journal Unravelling the Legend of the Dragon