Visiting the Forbidden City

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Visiting the Forbidden City

Leaving Tiananmen Square we make our way through Tiananmen towards the Forbidden City where emperors have lived since the beginning of the Ming Dynasty.

Chairman Mao's portrait on Tiananment at the gate to the Forbidden CityOver the arch that leads through Tiananmen is a classic portrait of Chairman Mao and two statements declaring support for the People’s Republic of China and the unity of the peoples of the world.

The way in is very crowded and it is difficult not to get separated. We walk through the arch and then two courtyards until we reach the formal entrance and Johnny our guide goes to get the tickets.

The palace itself is a lot bigger than I had expected. I’ve seen pictures in films and books which picture the front of the main palace but behind that are a myriad of other room and courtyards, some expansive, while others are small and almost quaint. Unfortunately the inner rooms are no longer possible to visit although many can be viewed from outside.

We didn’t see everything but I don’t think we missed out on much. We started at the outer court looking up to the Gate of Supreme Harmony across the 5 marble bridges which apparently symbolise the 5 virtues. The court also has 2 large lion statues, one with a ball (the male) and the other a lion cub (the female).

The forbidden city in BeijingThen on, through yet more crowds to a new courtyard which leads up to the Halls of; Supreme Harmony, Middle Harmony and Preserving Harmony. The roofs continue to impress the children – probably because they are so obviously Chinese. Atop the roofs of the halls a statue of a dragon head followed by several other dragon figures – the more figures, the more important the building.

Then finally we’re through the Gate of Heavenly Purity and into the Imperial Gardens with it’s ancient trees and artificial but no less beautiful lava rock hill.

It took us about 3 hours to complete the tour and while it was definitely not one the miss, that was about long enough!