Following the Emperor’s steps at The Forbidden City | Beijing, China | One of the main highlights of my recent trip to China, was other than visiting The Great Wall of China, spending a full morning following the Emperor’s steps at The Forbidden City in Beijing. This was a Half-Day Private walking morning tour, which also included Tiananmen Square. We were picked up at our hotel, Rosewood Beijing, and driven to main gates of The Forbidden City or also known as Imperial Palace.
The Forbidden City was the Chinese imperial palace from the Ming dynasty to the end of the Qing dynasty. It is located in the center of Beijing, China, and now houses the Palace Museum. The Forbidden City was designed to be the centre of the ancient, walled city of Beijing. It is enclosed in a larger, walled area called the Imperial City. The Imperial City is, in turn, enclosed by the Inner City; to its south lies the Outer City.The complex consists of 980 buildings and covers 72 ha (180 acres). The palace complex exemplifies traditional Chinese palatial architecture. Declared a World Heritage Site in 1987,and is listed by UNESCO as the largest collection of preserved ancient wooden structures in the world.
The capital of Imperial China was off-limits from its completion in 1420, until the fall of the Last Emperor in 1911, hence its name ‘The Forbidden City’. It was home to the Emperor and his family along with thousands of imperial staff, had unique traditions, customs and rituals all designed to glorify the Emperor as ‘The Son of Heaven’. (photo above is the Hall of Supreme Harmony, the center of the Forbidden City)
The Palace is effectively split into three areas – the first being where Imperial business was conducted, such as the Emperor holding court with his officials. The second and more intimate part are the Imperial living quarters and around the edges, under the high walls, the servant’s quarters.
Walking through The Forbidden City is an unique experience, the stunning architecture and if you find a quiet corner you can easily conjure up visions of life in the days of Imperial China. Watching the film, ‘The Last Emperor’, prior your arrival, will obviously help to your visit.
From there you will enter the Palace of Heavenly Purity. It is the largest of the three halls of the Inner Court. In the Ming Dynasty, it was the residence of the Emperor. The large space was divided into nine rooms on two levels, with twenty-seven beds. The Gate of Supreme Harmony is the second major gate encountered when entering the Forbidden City from the south.
The Palace was looted in 1949, by the retreating Kuomintang and much of the Imperial Collection is now on display at The National Palace Museum in Taipei, Taiwan.
You may also visit the section of the Imperial Gardens among several other rooms.
At the end of our visit, we came out of the Gate of Divine Might, with views of the Jingshan Park. ( From where after a nice climb, you will get areal views of the Forbidden City. )
This private half day tour, offered by East West Planners included also Tianamen Square, but I will blog about that separately. Above you can see a photo of us, with are funky and charming guide Fiona. Carlos Melia Luxury Travel Curator – www.carlosmelia.com
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