The Forbidden city was once home to a long line of emperors. With its magnificent halls, winding lanes, and stately courtyards that will leave you in awe is Beijing’s treasure. It is now the palace museum of the city and the world’s largest palace complex. The museum has been rebuilt so not all of it’s original, but the architecture it’s the same. It has 800 buildings and more than 8,000 rooms (you might need more than one day to observe each building). Its construction began in 1406, so it has a history of nearly 600 years and 24 emperors ruled the whole country from here for nearly 500 years.
It all starts at the Gate of Heavenly Peace. You walk like a mile to get to the ticket office, the entrance was only 40 RMB. All the main buildings are located in the middle of the area and only the emperor was allowed in them. More buildings are built to its sides where the concubines lived.
The museum is divided in different little areas which you enter through a side door (every time I crossed that door I could just not believe what I was seeing).
The Forbidden city embodies Feng Shui, architectural principles used for thousands of years in China. The main building is the Hall of Supreme Harmony which was the site of many imperial weddings. Outside of it there is a pair of lions. A female lion symbolizes fertility. A male lion represents power. There are also bronze vats on the sides of the building which were used to keep water to fight fires and were covered in gold. A fact I learned about the vats was that during a war foreign soldiers scraped the gold from them and you can actually see that if you take a close look.
Visiting the museum was a great experience, I spent three hours here and feel like I didn’t get to see all of it. I will definitely go back and maybe take some friends with me. I think the Forbidden city captures the culture of China and their beliefs. Every single thing on the museum symbolizes something. Chinese people do not just decor something a certain way for any reason. This is a must see site when in Beijing besides the Great Wall (that is another story!).