The Forbidden City, also known as
the Imperial Palace and the Palace Museum, is the best preserved
imperial palace in China and the largest ancient palatial structure
in the world. In 1987, it was nominated as the World Cultural Heritage
by the UNESCO.
The Forbidden City used to be the former Imperial
Palace for the Ming and Qing emperors. It was first build in 1420
during the Ming Dynasty, while the Qing Emperors also stayed inside
after they entered Beijing. Altogether 24 emperors lived and conducted
state affairs in the Forbidden City for a total of 491 years.
The Forbidden City covers an area of 72 hectares
with a total floor space of about 163,000 square meters. It is rectangular
in shape, 960 meters long from north to south, and 750 meters wide
from east to west, surrounded with a 10-meter high city wall and
encircled by a 52-meter wide moat. At each corner of the surrounding
wall, there is a magnificent watchtower, which was heavily guarded
in the old days.
Talking about the rooms and buildings in the Forbidden
City, the popular saying is that there ware 9,999 and a half rooms
in the Forbidden City. Because the "Heavenly Palace" for
the God of Heaven had 10,000 rooms, the emperor on the earth didn't
dare to compare himself with the God of Heaven. Therefore, the number
of rooms in the Imperial Palace was a half room less. But the fact
is that, according to the records in 1973, the Forbidden City now
consists of more than 90 palaces and courtyards, 980 buildings with
rooms of 8,704.
The Forbidden City can be divided into two parts:
the Outer Court and the Inner Palace. The Outer Court consists of
three main buildings in the front part of the Forbidden City. This
was the place where the emperors attended the grand ceremonies and
conducted state affairs; while the Inner Palace is composed of the
rear three main buildings and the six eastern palaces and six western
palaces, and was the place where the emperor used to handle daily
affairs and it was the living quarters for the emperor, empress
and imperial concubines.
The museum is a real treasures house of Chinese
cultural and historical relics, recognized as one of the most important
five palaces in the world. The splendid architecture of the Forbidden
City represents the essence and culmination of the traditional Chinese