on June 3, 2010
My first impression of The Forbidden City was to run away from the crowds and the noise. Thousands of people shoving and pushing to get in line for a ticket...thousands more yelling to buy a booklet or whatever. The Chinese seem to have the words push and shove built into their character; not because they are rude but because they are used to sharing space with so many people. The Forbidden City is a symbol of royalty. During the Ming Dynasty, Emperor Yongle, built the palace in 14 years with over 200,000 laborers, finishing in 1420. The Ming capitol was then relocated to Beijing and the palace became the home to 23 Ming and Qing emperors until 1911. There are 800 buildings and 8,000 rooms. The whole complex was surrounded by walls and a moat. Many of the rooms have been turned into mini museums that have artifacts of clothing, weapons, personal belongings, papers and even a rhinoceros horn lantern. The city was built on the requirements of feng shui...a theory of balance of nature and soul. In 1987, the Forbidden City was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to it's place in Chinese architectural & cultural development. The Forbidden City is the world's largest palace complex and is shaped in a rectangle. It was designed to be the center of the ancient city of Beijing. It is surrounded by a 26 ft. high wall which served both as a defensive mechanism and also retaining walls for the palace. The city is a series of courtyards which surround low horizontal buildings with elegant roofs. The roofs of the buildings define a stately and meaningful progression through the city which gives each building their own character and function. Every aspect of the designs reflected the Confucian thought which had become the inspiration for the Chinese society since the time of the Han Dynasty in the second century A.D.The city is open from 8:30-5:00 in the summer and 8:30-4:30 in the winter. You can also purchase self guiding audio sets in English while touring the city.Best way to get there is by taxi but since most taxi drivers do not speak English, make sure you get the Chinese symbols written down by your hotel to tell the driver where to go.
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