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August 19, 2008 / Adam Jay Doolittle

Forbidden City

Once the exclusive city for the emperors and off-limits to the public for 500 years, the Forbidden City is the largest collection of ancient Chinese architecture and culture in one place. It’s well worth the Y60 entrance fee.

What to see inside the Forbidden City

Meridian Gate – the southern ceremonial hall was restored in the 17th century was a massive portal for the Emperors use.

Divine Military Genius Gate – the Northern ceremonial hall

Supreme Harmony Gate – Across the Golden Stream, which overlooks the massive courtyard that once held imperial audiences up to 100,000 people.

The Three Great Halls – the heart of the Forbidden City, which are raised on a marble terrace, Hall of Supreme Harmony, Hall of Middle Harmony, and Hall of Preserving Harmony.

Hall of Supreme Harmony – the most important building within the Forbidden City is also the largest. Originally built in the 15th century was later restored later in the 17th century. The Hall of Supreme Harmony was once used for ceremonial occasions like the Emperor’s birthday and nominating high-level military officials. Inside the hall is the lavishly decorated Dragon Throne where the emperor would preside.

Hall of Middle Harmony – Located behind the Hall of Supreme Harmony, the Hall of Middle Harmony was once used as a transit lounge for the emperor.

Hall of Preserving Harmony – mainly used as a banquet hall and later used for imperial examinations. Look to the rear to see a 250-ton marble imperial carriageway carved with dragons and clouds.

Palace of Heavenly Purity – was the residence for both the Ming and Qing emperors, was also later used as an audience hall for foreign officials.

Hall of Union

Imperial Garden – a classical Chinese garden might be the most beautiful part of the Forbidden City with fine landscaping, rockeries, and walkways.

Clock Exhibition Hall – isn’t one to miss, its an exhibition of gifts to Emperor Qing from overseas. Many of the 18th Century clocks are imports from Guangdong, the southern port near Hong Kong. These imports are mainly form England, America, Switzerland, and Japan.


(1) Starbucks is no longer inside the Forbidden City; (2) Some of the best views of the Forbidden City are away from the bustling crowds out to the outer sides of the city.

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