Nestled at the heart of Beijing, the Forbidden City stands as an iconic symbol of China’s imperial grandeur. If you are planning to visit this UNESCO World Heritage Site for the first time, the below guide will come in handy.
Planning a Visit
Due to its central location, the Forbidden City can be easily reached by taxi or public transport when staying at Beijing serviced apartments. Accommodation options such as Ascott Raffles City Beijing are within easy reach so you can enjoy hassle-free sightseeing. Start early to avoid the crowds and wear comfortable shoes as you will be doing a lot of walking. You can limit your visit to a few hours, though ideally, set aside a full day for your explorations.
A Bit of History
Built during the Ming Dynasty in the early 15th century and later expanded during the Qing Dynasty, The Forbidden City served as the imperial palace for approximately 500 years. Its vermilion walls and yellow roofs were once off-limits to the public, creating an aura of mystery and exclusivity. Today, it stands open, inviting visitors to explore its opulent halls and courtyards, each echoing with tales of emperors and concubines.
The Forbidden City follows a precise north-south axis, representing the cosmic order in traditional Chinese cosmology. The complex is divided into two main sections: the Outer Court, which houses ceremonial halls and government offices, and the Inner Court, where the emperor’s living quarters are situated. The meticulous layout reflects the imperial understanding of harmony and balance, creating a structured yet awe-inspiring journey for visitors exploring its vast expanse.
A Few Highlights
Amongst the top draws here are the Three Great Halls namely the Hall of Supreme Harmony which is the largest structure at this site, the Hall of Central Harmony, and the Hall of Preserving Harmony. Not to be missed are the Lesser Central Halls home to attractions like the Palace of Heavenly Purity as well as the Imperial Garden that can be found at the northern end. For more insights, look to visit the Treasure Gallery at the Palace of Tranquil Longevity which showcases a stunning array of ornamental objects. Of course, there is plenty more to discover so consider bringing a guidebook or hiring a knowledgeable guide.