24 emperors ruled China from within the Forbidden City during the Ming and Qing dynasties (1368-1911AD). The Forbidden City is so named as commoners were barred from entering the palace grounds. The palace was an elusive "city within a city" for the emperor, his royal family, concubines, eunuchs and servants. The privacy of the imperial family was guarded by a 10 meter (33ft) wall and 52 meter (170ft) moat that enclosed the complex.
The palace was initially constructed by 200,000
workmen under the order of the third Ming emperor Yongle in 1420.
This former imperial residence covers an area of 72 hectares, has
a total floor space of some 160,000 sq meters and houses 800 buildings
and 9,000 chambers. It is a maze of halls, pavilions, courtyards
and walls and is an architectural masterpiece.
The Throne Hall or the Hall of Supreme Harmony
is China's tallest ancient palace building and is where during the
reign of the Ming and Qing emperors, all important national ceremonies
took place. With yellow tiles over red walls, gilded doors behind
vermilion colonnades and carved white marble balustrades, the palace
is the ultimate example of fine imperial architecture. The hall
is recognizable to anyone who has seen Bertolucci’s epic movie ‘The
After being the center of the Chinese world for
nearly 500 years, the Forbidden City is now one of the largest and
best preserved palace complexes in the world. The Palace Museum
has been opened to the public since the 1950s and around a million
rare and valuable objects are housed there. Visitors should plan
on spending at least 1/2 a day here.