Nestled in Beijing city center and severing as home to 24 emperors during the Ming and the Qing dynasties, the Forbidden City is an ancient imperial architectural masterpiece beyond compare as well as the largest extant wood-structured architecture complex. The legend goes as that the Heavenly Emperor’s palace boasts 10,000 rooms, symbolizing perfection, and the earthly emperors daren’t outnumber him in rooms, so 9999.5 rooms were built under imperial order in the Forbidden City.
Modeled on Nanjing Imperial Palace and based on ancient Chinese horoscope, the 720,000-square meter Forbidden City was built under instruct of Zhu Di (Emperor Chengzu) from 1406 to 1420 in the Ming dynasty, and over 230,000 labors were dispatched for the cause.
Roofed by yellow glazed tiles and decorated by colorful paintings inside, the Forbidden City covers a construction area of 150,000 square meters with 8707 rooms now, whose city wall measures 961 meters long from north to south and 753 meters wide. The architecture complex is symmetrically distributed along the central axis of Beijing, which is precisely in accordance with a feudal code of architectural hierarchy designating specific features for reflecting the paramount authority and status of the emperors.
The outermost layer of the Forbidden City is a moat with 52 meters wide and 6 meters deep, followed by a city wall measuring 3,000 meters long and 10 meters tall. There are 4 gates on the wall, namely, Meridian Gate in the south, Gate of Godly Prowess in the north, Dong Hua Gate in the east and Xi Hua Gate in the west respectively, with a turret at each wall corner. The turret is unconventional in pattern and unique in style with 3-tier eaves and 72 roof ridges, boasting the masterpiece of ancient Chinese architecture.
With emperors, imperial power and imperial palace as kernel, the Forbidden City is blessed with profound historical and cultural connotation, which is the classical Chinese culture in a more specific sense, featuring authoritative, traditional and immortal, and it has been listed on the Top 5 Palaces in the world together with the French Versailles Palace, the British Buckingham Palace, the U.S. White House, the Russian Kremlin. In 1987, the Forbidden City was listed on the world heritage sites by the UNESCO, and the World Heritage Convention states that: “Seat of supreme power for over five centuries (1416-1911), the Forbidden City in Beijing, with its landscaped gardens and many buildings (whose nearly 10,000 rooms contain furniture and works of art), constitutes a priceless testimony to Chinese civilization during the Ming and Qing dynasties.”
Author: Yang Qingwei