Forbidden City

The Forbidden City, now officially known as the Palace Museum is one of the largest and most famous ancient palaces in the world. Located in central Beijing, it covers a huge area of 720,000 square meters that is surrounded by an eight meter high wall and a six meter deep, 52 meter wide moat. 8,707 rooms are in the 980 buildings contained within its walls.

Constructed in the Ming Dynasty between 1406-1420 during the reign of Zhu Di, the palace was the home of 24 emperors of the Ming and Qing Dynasties until 1924 when the last emperor Pu Yi was evicted by the government of the Republic of China. Then in 1925 the new government founded the Palace Museum.

The city is divided into two main parts, the outer and the inner courts. The outer court is to the south and where all the official work was done. The inner court was the residence of the emperor and his family. All the major buildings are built on the north to south axis. The Meridian Gate is the entrance and first major sight. Walking under the famous portrait of Mao you get a sense of how important this place is in Chinese history. It is literally a dream of millions of Chinese to walk through this gate into their country's ancient heart.

Walking through the Gate of Supreme Harmony you see the Hall of Supreme Harmony which is the palace's biggest building, across the vast courtyard This hall was where all official ceremonies took place. Continuing you will walk past the Hall of Central Harmony and the Hall of Preserving Harmony though you cannot go inside any of these buildings.

Moving on to the inner court you are greeted by the home of the emperor, the Hall of Heavenly Purity and behind this is the Imperial Garden, a beautifully designed area for the emperor and his family to relax in. There are hundreds of other sights all over the complex to enjoy as well including thousands of priceless relics housed in many of the buildings. Jingshan Park just outside of the back gate (the Gate of Martial Spirit) is a nice place to get a bird's eye view of the entire Forbidden City and watch the beautiful sunset of Beijing.

Thousands of people from China and all over the world flock to the Forbidden City everyday so be prepared for a more hectic than relaxing experience if you go, though it is definitely worth it to see one of the world's great treasures.