An ancient site rooted in the heart of modern Beijing, The Forbidden City. It is located in the center of Beijing, China, which is now popularly as the Palace Museum. As its name suggests, the precinct is a micro-city in its own right. Measuring 961 meters in length and 753 meters in width, the Forbidden City is composed of more than 90 palace compounds including 98 buildings and surrounded by a moat as wide as 52 meters. Completed in 1420, the city served as the palace of Ming Dynasty emperor, Yongle. Its walls surrounded an area large enough to contain more than 50 Buckingham Palaces, creating a private sanctuary which none but the emperor’s family and eunuchs were permitted to enter.
The Forbidden City became the seat of imperial power in China, for almost five centuries, and remains an important part, of modern China’s cultural heritage, today. But it is seldom, mentioned that Yongle was not the first emperor, to build in that location. In fact, underneath the streets of modern Beijing, lie the remains of a much earlier palace. It was first built throughout 14 years during the reign of Emperor Chengzu in the Ming Dynasty 1368 TO 1644. Ancient Chinese Astronomers believed that the Purple Star, was in the center of heaven, and the Heavenly Emperor, lived in the Purple Palace. The Palace for the emperor on earth was so called the Purple City. It was forbidden, to enter without special permission, of the emperor. Hence its name The Purple Forbidden City, usually The Forbidden City.
In 1406, the construction of the Forbidden City, began. The complex was commissioned, by the third Ming emperor, Yongle, and built by the architect, Chen Gui. According to tradition, at times more than 100,000 artisans, and a total of up to a million workers, were involved in the construction. This incredibly large number, of workers allowed the building, to be completed in only 14 years. The Forbidden City, was the home of twenty-four emperors during 491 years, from 1420 to 1911. After the abdication, of the last emperor in 1911, he and his family lived at the Fasting Palace inside the complex up to 1924. Then they had to leave the Forbidden City, and the site was opened to the public.
There are 13,844 dragon images, in the Forbidden City. All the doors have 81 nails, that is 9 rows of 9 nails each, except for the Donghua Gate, which only has 8 rows. Since coffins were also carried through this gate, the number of nails needed to be an even number, also known as a Yin number. The Forbidden City has 9 million visitors annually. There are various features of this city that make it one of a kind especially for tourist attraction. The Forbidden City also served as a fort to protect the emperor and his family.
24 different Chinese emperors lived in the palace, for almost 500 years. About 100,000, artisans and craftsmen, worked on the palace. The last emperor of China, Puyi, continued, to live in the Forbidden City for 12 years, after he abandoned the throne in 1912. The Chinese name for the palace during ancient times was Zijin Cheng, which means Purple Forbidden City. Today the palace is called Gugong, which means Former Palace. The movie The Last Emperor was filmed, inside the Forbidden City. At a time, 9,000 eunuchs lived there. 200,000, 1 million laborers and artisans constructed the complex. Altogether, 24 emperors lived there.
Today, the Forbidden City is still changing. As a modern museum and an historical site, the museum strikes a balance by maintaining the structures and restoring the interiors of the palace compounds, and in certain instances transforming minor palace buildings and hallways into exhibition galleries for the exquisite artwork of the imperial collections. For many, the Forbidden City is a time capsule for China’s past and an educational institute for the public to learn and appreciate the history and beauty of this ancient culture.