The Forbidden City

The Forbidden City is located in the centre of Beijing, China, and was the Chinese imperial palace from the mid-Ming Dynasty to the end of the Qing Dynasty in 1912. After the collapse of the Yuan Dynasty, the Hongwu Emperor of the Ming Dynasty moved the capital from Beijing in the north to Nanjing in the south and in 1369 ordered that the Yuan palaces be razed.


His son Zhu Di was created Prince of Yan with his seat in Beijing. In 1402, Zhu Di usurped the throne and became the Yongle Emperor. He made Beijing a secondary capital of the Ming Empire, and construction began in 1406 of what would become the Forbidden City.


Built in 1406 to 1420, the complex consists of 980 buildings and covers 72 ha (180 acres). The palace complex exemplifies traditional Chinese palatial architecture, and has influenced cultural and architectural developments in East Asia and elsewhere.


From 1420 to 1644, the Forbidden City was the seat of the Ming dynasty. In April 1644, it was captured by rebel forces led by Li Zicheng, who proclaimed himself emperor of the Shun dynasty. He soon fled before the combined armies of former Ming general Wu Sangui and Manchu forces, setting fire to parts of the Forbidden City in the process.


The Forbidden City was declared a World Heritage Site in 1987 by UNESCO as the “Imperial Palace of the Ming and Qing Dynasties”, due to its significant place in the development of Chinese architecture and culture. The Forbidden City remains important in the civic scheme of Beijing.


The central north–south axis remains the central axis of Beijing. This axis extends to the south through Tiananmen gate to Tiananmen Square, the ceremonial centre of the People’s Republic of China, and on to Yongdingmen.


The wall is pierced by a gate on each side. At the southern end is the main Meridian Gate. To the north is the Gate of Divine Might, which faces Jingshan Park. The east and west gates are called the “East Glorious Gate “and “West Glorious Gate”.


All gates in the Forbidden City are decorated with a nine-by-nine array of golden door nails, except for the East Glorious Gate, which has only eight rows. In the centre of China’s capital Beijing, the Forbidden City displays an extraordinarily harmonious balance between buildings and open space within a symmetrical layout.

Forbidden City

Sunrise with historical architecture in Forbidden City in Beijing, China.

It contains immense courtyards, terraces and stairways, and buildings decorated with golden roofs, vermilion, vivid red pigment of durable quality. Columns and green, red and yellow facings are amazing.


Though the Forbidden City is the largest comprehensive museum in China, the traditional building is hard to be adapted for use as modern exhibition activities. The particularities of relics won’t permit to install illumination, air-conditioning, security and fire-equipments that presented an obstacle to the exchange with the famous museums of foreign countries.


The efforts of excellent renovation design were rewarded that finally added modern functions after they put five years of work with precision on this project.


Now a huge glass box with top-leveled exhibition techniques already lay in the Hall of Wumen building and it is the sole modernized exhibition hall we have ever had. Visitors walk through two glass doors and find they have placed themselves in a dim large hall and feel themselves attracted by the ceilings of the hall.


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