The Forbidden City was the Chinese imperial palace from the Ming dynasty to the end of the Qing dynasty. It is located in the centre of Beijing, China, and now houses the Palace Museum. It served as the home of emperors and their households as well as the ceremonial and political centre of Chinese government for almost 500 years.
Built in 1406 to 1420, the complex consists of 980 buildings and covers 72 ha (180 acres). The palace complex exemplifies traditional Chinese palatial architecture, and has influenced cultural and architectural developments in East Asia and elsewhere. The Forbidden City was declared a World Heritage Site in 1987, and is listed by UNESCO as the largest collection of preserved ancient wooden structures in the world.
Since 1925, the Forbidden City has been under the charge of the Palace Museum, whose extensive collection of artwork and artifacts were built upon the imperial collections of the Ming and Qing dynasties. Part of the museum’s former collection is now located in the National Palace Museum in Taipei. Both museums descend from the same institution, but were split after the Chinese Civil War.
The common English name, “the Forbidden City”, is a translation of the Chinese name Zijin Cheng, literally “Purple Forbidden City”. Another English name of similar origin is “Forbidden Palace”.
The Forbidden City is a rectangle, with 961 metres (3,153 ft) from north to south and 753 metres (2,470 ft) from east to west. It consists of 980 surviving buildings with 8,886 bays of rooms; however this figure may not include various antechambers. Another common figure points to 9,999 rooms including antechambers; although this number is frequently cited, it is likely an oral tradition, and it is not supported by survey evidence. The Forbidden City was designed to be the centre of the ancient, walled city of Beijing. It is enclosed in a larger, walled area called the Imperial City. The Imperial City is, in turn, enclosed by the Inner City; to its south lies the Outer City.
The Forbidden City remains important in the civic scheme of Beijing. The central north-south axis remains the central axis of Beijing. This axis extends to the south through Tiananmen gate to Tiananmen Square, the ceremonial centre of the People’s Republic of China, and on to Yongdingmen. To the north, it extends through Jingshan Hill to the Bell and Drum Towers. This axis is not exactly aligned north–south, but is tilted by slightly more than two degrees. Researchers now believe that the axis was designed in the Yuan dynasty to be aligned with Xanadu, the other capital of their empire.
New measures will be taken to control the number of visitors. The number of visitors is limited to 80,000 per day and ticket sales will stop once the total sales reaches 80,000.
Concessionary tickets will be sold from 1 November 2015 to 31 March 2016 (excluding New Year’s Day (1 January) and the Chinese New year Holiday). It costs CNY 20 to visit the museum during above-mentioned period. However, tickets will need to be bought from Gugong.228.com.cn in advance and it does not include visits to the Treasure Gallery and Gallery of the Clock and Watch.
April to October 2015: CNY 60
November 2015 to March 2016: CNY 40
CNY 10 for the Treasure Gallery; CNY 10 for the Clock and Watch Gallery
April to October 2015: 8:30-17:00; last ticket is available at 16:00 and last entry at 16:10.
November 2015 to March 2016: 8:30-16:30; last ticket is available at 15:30 and last entry at 15:40.
Closed on Mondays, except statutory holidays and the summer holiday from 1 July to 31 August.
Recommended time for a visit:
Subway Line 1: get off at Tiananmen West or Tiananmen East Station, walk north through the Tiananmen Tower (Gate of Heavenly Peace), and then you’ll see the Meridian Gate (south gate)
Subway Line 2: get off at Qianmen Station and walk north through the Tiananmen Tower.
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