The Forbidden City served as the Emperor’s Palace in the Ming and Qing Dynasties (1368-1644, 1644-1911). It’s the most impressive place I’ve seen in China and happens to be the world’s largest palace complex.
To enter the Forbidden City, you must first cross a 6-meter deep moat.
The southern half of the palace, where the Emperor ruled, is devoted to prominent buildings on the central axis, large open spaces, and a royal obsession with symmetry. The northern half, where the Emperor and his family lived, is a maze of smaller buildings that are unfortunately not open to the public.
Bronze and copper statues guard the entrances to the central axis buildings, which have very impressive architecture.
Perhaps this lion was meant to be so fierce that it was clawing one of its own kin…
In addition to gold, all the primary and secondary colors are on display except for purple, which is nowhere to be found on the intricately painted wood underneath the eaves. Orange is rare and looks like white paint that was mistakenly mixed with red paint when it is used.
When the palace was inhabited, these bronze vessels were filled with water in case of fire. During the winter, they were covered with quilts to keep the water warm or heated with coal.
These grain measure vessels were placed outside the palace to credit the Emperor with establishing a grain measuring standard that unified the nation.
Outside each central axis building, there was a sufficiently well-translated sign noting the parameters of the structure – one auspicious bay number times another auspicious bay number – and describing what function the building had for the emperor. Note the line at the bottom indicating that the sign was translated by American Express, the only piece of advertising in the whole palace.
Though one structure was for meeting dignitaries and another for resting, they all looked similar on the inside: a mainly empty hall with a carpeted throne , statues, and vases. These interiors were also not open to the public. Instead, tourists swarmed at the front rail, and pushing was necessary to get a view of the throne.
Most of the buildings had gable roofs and beautiful panelled ceilings.
The continuous structures lining the sides of the palace have been converted into museums that house artifacts from weddings and wars. Of course there was no mention of servants’ lives or the role of anyone below royalty.