Or called "Purple Gold Palace", it is the best-kept and largest imperial dwelling in China.
The Forbidden City stands in the center of Beijing. It is protected by high walls and a moat on all four sides and consists of dozens of halls and courtyards. The emperors of two dynasties, the Ming (1368-1644) and the Qing (1644-1911), lived here with their families and hundreds of court ladies and palace eunuchs. From their throne in the Forbidden City they governed the country by holding court meetings with their ministers, issuing imperial orders and initiating military expeditions.
The Forbidden City was completed in 1420 during the Ming Dynasty. It had been the scene of many important events affecting the course of Chinese history, including political struggles and palace coups, some of them extremely tragic, until the last emperor was finally expelled by republican troops in 1924. The Forbidden City was renamed as the Palace Museum and opened to the general public.
The Forbidden City palace grounds are divided into two main sections, the Front Palace to the south and the Inner Palace to the north. The long stone ramp carved with dragons sporting in clouds in bas-relief in the center of the staircase called the Imperial Way (or Dragon Pavement), which corresponded with the north-south axis of the city, was for the emperor's exclusive use; imperial family members and civil and military officials no matter how high their ranks had to walk the forty-four steps to either side.
In the center of the Front Palace stand the magnificent and imposing appearance of the Hall of Supreme Harmony, the Hall of Complete Harmony and the Hall of Preserving Harmony, commonly known as the "Three Great Halls” derives from the broad, stately 7-meter-high terraces on which they stand. The I-shape terraces are made up of three layers of white marble, each layer bounded by a low balustrade. The pillars are ornamented at the top with carved cloud patterns, dragon and phoenixes and the panels between the pillars are adorned with vases of lotus (the lotus symbolizes purity and grace) leaves. At the base of the pillars is a small channel for water drainage and beneath each pillar a dragon's head with a hole in its mouth, which serves both practical and ornamental functions. If a tourist visits the Forbidden City on rainy days, he will witness the magnificent sight of 1142 dragons on the three terraces simultaneously spurting rainwater from their mouth.
The Inner Palace includes the Palace of Heaven (Celestial) Purity, the Hall of Celestial Union and the Hall of Terrestrial Tranquility (Earthly Peace), collectively known as the "Three Rear Palaces", together with the Imperial Garden and the six palaces to the east and west, was the emperor's domestic quarters and the areas of the palace where the empress, concubines and children of the emperor contained storerooms, libraries and a hall of historical archives.
The Eastern Six Palace included the Palace of Prolonged Auspiciousness, the Palace of Eternal Harmony, the Palace of Great Brilliance, the Palace of Great Benevolence, the Palace of Celestial Favor, and the Palace of Purity. The Western Six Palace refer to the Palace of Everlasting Life, the Palace of Queen Consort, the Palace of Gathering Elegance, the Palace for Eternal Spring, the Palace of Universal Happiness, and the Palace of External Longevity.
Three millions of tourists from home and abroad who visit the Forbidden City every year, but they visit only one-third of the total complex. The other two thirds have been locked down and covered by a thick of layer of dust. The goal of the most extensive renovation is to rehabilitate the glory of the palace when it was at its prime time in the imperial era. Around 70 per cent of the palace will be open to the public after the renovations are finished in 2020.
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