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Forbidden City – Beijing, China

The Forbidden City is situated in the exact center of the ancient city of Beijing.  It is no longer used for government or administrative purposes, and it is now designated as the Palace Museum.  It was built as the Imperial Palace during the powerful Ming Dynasty though the rulers of the Qing dynasties would later use it for the same purpose.  The Forbidden City is a key cultural and tourist attraction in Beijing, and is the world’s largest collection of ancient wooden structures with 800 buildings and 9,000 rooms sprawling over a 720,000 square meter complex.


The Imperial Palace began construction in 1406 and was finished 14 years later with the help of some 200,000 workers.  It housed the fourteen Emperors of the Ming Dynasty until a peasant revolt in 1644 overthrew their reign.  The new Qing Dynasty settled in for ten more Emperors leading up to the abdication of the last Emperor in 1912. 

Throughout the centuries, many rare artifacts and spoils were displayed prominently in the Palace.  With the outbreak of World War II and the Cultural Revolution some 20 years later, many of the Forbidden City’s valuable artifacts were moved around the country until they were finally placed into the National Palace Museum in Taipei for safekeeping.


The Forbidden City is an immense complex covering about 74 hectares in area.  On the outskirts lies a massive moat that is six meters in depth and a wall that is ten meters high. 

In the complex are five major halls, seventeen different palaces, and several hundred other small buildings.  Some counts have placed the number of rooms between 9,000 and 9,999.5, though the latter number is more of a mythical reflection on the ideal Forbidden City that was believed to have 10,000 rooms in heaven.

On each face of the rectangular complex is a large gate.  Their imposing doors were meant to withstand the fiercest attacks of its time, and the walls could reportedly withstand heavy cannon fire.

At each corner of the complex is a unique tower with great views of the city and the Forbidden City complex.  The complex itself is divided into two sections.  The southern section is the lesser court, or Outer Court, and has some five halls including the massive Hall of Supreme Harmony.  One key feature in addition to the Hall of Supreme Harmony is the Gate of Supreme Harmony.  Both are key tourist landmarks.