Located in central Beijing, China, the Forbidden City was the Imperial Palace of 24 emperors during the Ming and Qing dynasties. It is home to the Palace Museum, and a variety of striking worship halls, treasure galleries and gardens. Today over one million artefacts and unique works of art are housed within the Forbidden City museum.
There is much to see and do inside the gates of Forbidden City. Stop to admire the entrance at Meridian Gate, the largest gate into the city, with a height of 37 metres. The gate comprises five towers, also known as “Five Phoenix Tower” due to its intricate design and symbolism. Strict rules were once imposed on entrants to the city via these gates. The central doorway was to be used only by emperors of the ruling dynasties, and only the empress and top scholars were occasionally allowed access. Many ceremonies, festivals and auspicious events were held at the Meridian Gates. Further into the city, visitors will discover the wonderful Palace Museum. The collections showcase items from the Qing Imperial Collection and the Ming dynasty. Ancient artworks depicting landscapes and emperors line the walls, with over 50,000 of them to view, and many dating back to before the Yuan dynasty. The Palace hosts one of the most important collections of artwork in Chinese history. Other highlights of Forbidden City include the Palace of Heavenly Purity, the Hall of Supreme Harmony, the Hall of Celestial and Terrestrial Union and the picturesque Imperial Gardens.
Reaching Forbidden City is easy, as entry is allowed via the Meridian south gate next to the Palace Museum. Subway trains allow visitors to disembark at Tiananmen East or West Stations then walk the short distance to the entrance gate. Alternatively, there is a further stop at Qianmen Station next to Tiananmen Square. Buses are also readily available, stopping close to the main gates of Forbidden City. For visitors who prefer to walk to the attraction, it takes 17 minutes to walk from Tiananmen Square and just over one hour from Temple of Heaven.
Construction of the Forbidden City lasted 14 years. Over a million workers were brought into work on the most ambitious city project of its time. Since completion, it has been home to 14 Ming and 10 Qing dynasty emperors. It only ceased as the political centre of China when the last emperor abdicated in 1912. Today, Forbidden City is one of the most visited landmarks in Beijing, with millions of visitors eager to discover the intriguing history hidden behind the walls.