Enter into the Forbidden City

Gu Gong was the Chinese emperors’ palace during the Ming and Qing dynasties, built from 1406 until 1420. During ancient times, the emperors claimed divine origins, and so their residence here on earth was a replica of their gods’ dwelling place in heaven. As such, ordinary people were not allowed to enter it, and today the gigantic palace is known for this restriction… it is the Forbidden City.

The Forbidden City lies at the centre of Beijing, north of Tiananmen Square. It is easily accessible by subway train; get on the metro's “red” line that travels east to west, and get off at Tianenmen East or West stations. The adventurous and those undaunted by the Chinese language can hop on a bus to Gugong and make new friends on their way to the palace.

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This is the largest ancient palace complex in the world, its 90 palaces and courtyards occupying some 72 hectares. Its 980 buildings are among the best-preserved in China, and are impressive examples of Chinese architecture. They also house important historical and cultural artefacts.

The main entrance to the city is through the Meridian Gate at the south, so-called because the emperors believed that the meridian line passed through the city and that the imperial residences constituted the centre of the universe. The Hall of Supreme Harmony is the largest wooden structure in the world, and it served as the staging area for important ceremonies officiated by the emperor himself. Take a stroll through the Imperial Garden, with its twenty or so buildings built in distinctly different styles.

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