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The Unforbidden City

By Morag Hobbs, Kou Jie, Liu Ning (People's Daily Online)    10:37, June 13, 2018

Nestled in the heart of Beijing, just behind the Tiananmen Gate, lies the Forbidden City. The palace and grounds were once home to Emperors along with their families and servants. It’s aptly named due to the fact that ordinary people were not allowed in the palace without risking the punishment of death. In fact, legend has it that even catching a glimpse of the Emperor outside the palace walls would mean your rather untimely death.

Today, however, over 16 million people visit the palace every year, meaning the Forbidden City is no longer so. The palace has a limit of 80,000 visitors per day and is closed every Monday for repair and renovation, so that the palace and relics within it can be kept for future generations to enjoy. It’s the largest ancient palace complex in the world, and was built by the third emperor of the Ming dynasty, the Yongle Emperor (1403-1420), between 1406 and 1420. Considering how huge the Forbidden City is, 14 years is not a huge amount of time to create the 112 hectares of ornate, traditional beauty that is still visible today.

24 Emperors lived within these walls for almost 500 years between 1420 and 1911! Although rumor has it there are 9,999 and a half rooms in the palace, at the last count it was 9,371, according to Shan Jixiang, curator of the Palace Museum, which is still more than you can explore in any one day. Some of the rooms and buildings are museums, with thousands of cultural relics showcased at any one time.

Even though the palace is busy most of the year as one of Beijing’s top tourist spots, you can find a number of quiet courtyards and gardens to ponder what life would have been like for those, both in and outside the palace walls, when it was indeed a Forbidden City.

 

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)
(Web editor: Liu Ning, Bianji)

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