As one of the top 5 palaces in the world in addition to the French Versailles Palace, the British Buckingham Palace, the U.S. White House, the Russian Kremlin, Beijing Forbidden City is generally divided into the Outer Court and the Inner Court based on its distribution and function, with Qianqing Gate as dividing line, which are very different from each other in architectural atmosphere.
The Outer Court is where the ancient emperor exercised his power to handle domestic and foreign affairs and hold national banquets, which is mainly comprised of Hall of Supreme Harmony, Hall of Central Harmony and Hall of Preserving Harmony, flanked with Wenhua Hall and Wenyuan Pavilion in the east and Wuying Hall and Xianruo Hall in the west.
The Inner Court is where the emperor and his concubines lived and entertained themselves, and it’s mainly made up of Palace of Heavenly Purity, Hall of Union and Palace of Earthly Tranquility, surrounded by the Six Palaces of the East and West and the Imperial Garden to the north.
As the quintessence of Han-style architecture, Beijing Forbidden City was built under the order of Ming-era emperor Zhu Di and enlarged by Qing-era emperors, whose architectural characteristics feature as follows:
- Facing south, the Forbidden City was designed and constructed according to ancient Chinese horoscope, with 2 ornamental columns with the same length employed to orient its azimuth. The 2 columns serve as upright survey stakes, and the plot-observer drew a straight line by linking two points together, which are marked by column shadows casted by the sun when they are of the same length in the morning and afternoon respectively, and the line is considered oriented in an east-west direction.
- Centered with Hall of Supreme Harmony, the architecture complex is arranged symmetrically, including halls, pavilions and corridors, etc.
- Supported by timber frames, the halls and palaces are built on a stone base and roofed by yellow glazed tiles.
- The roof ridges are decorated by large beast heads, with the hip roof boasting a round ball.
- Various kinds of patterns are decorated on bucket arches, eaves and tablets, including dragons, phoenixes, lions, birds, the Sun, the Moon and the stars as well as lotuses.
- The ornamental colors are rich and colorful, with roofs mainly in golden, windows in scarlet, eaves in blue and stone railings in white, which form stark contrast with one another.
- Beijing Forbidden City was listed on the world heritage site in 1987, attracting millions of visitors from all over the world each year. Author: Yang Qingwei