I've traveled to many places in China, but it is the Forbidden City that has left the most profound impression on me. The Forbidden City (aka the Imperial Palace), is also called Gu-Gong by Chinese people, meaning the "Former Palace." Located in Beijing, the Forbidden City is listed by UNESCO as one of the largest ancient wooden structures in the world and was declared a World Heritage Site in 1987. It has also been honored as one of the five largest palaces in the world. Built in 1420, during the Ming Dynasty, the Forbidden City served as the Imperial Palace during both the Ming and Qing Dynasties. The most attractive aspect of the Forbidden City is its imperial architectural design - wood beams, yellow glazed tiled roofs, green-white stone basements, and many magnificent murals and sculptures. Touring the Forbidden City, soaking in its opulence, it is easy to imagine the Emperor and his concubines' privileged lives in ancient China. Not surprisingly, many popular historical TV series in China are produced inside the Forbidden City. While there are many tourist attractions inside the Forbidden City, there are a few attractions in particular you definitely do not want to miss...
The Hall of Supreme Harmony
The Hall of Supreme Harmony is the first attraction you definitely don't want to miss. It ranks as the highest level building in the Forbidden City. The Hall of Supreme Harmony is where many important court ceremonies took place in olden times, such as the inauguration of succeeding Emperors, weddings, conferences, and ceremonies held for the military before it departed for battle. Guarding the hall's gate is a pair of fierce-looking bronze lions. These magnificent and intimidating statues are the largest bronze lions in the Forbidden City. In all, 6 pairs of bronze lions guard the Forbidden City. Near the lions you will find another attraction you definitely don't want to miss - the carved marble ramp. Carved with cloud and dragon designs and fronting the Hall of Supreme Harmony, the marble ramp is called Yunlongshidiao in Chinese. This stone carving weighs almost 250 tons. Massive and elaborate, you can't help wondering how ancient people constructed such an amazing work when you see it.
Palace of Heavenly Purity
The Palace of Heavenly Purity is where the Emperor used to live and handle the daily affairs of running his empire and court during the Ming and Qing Dynasties. In the middle of this elaborate palace stands the Emperor's throne. The throne, which was considered to be the seat of heaven - the most scared and sovereign position in the eyes of all the city ministers and citizens - was the supreme badge of honor and status; whoever sat upon the throne had the divine right to rule China. Not surprisingly, the Palace of Heavenly Purity is one of the most popular attractions among tourists to the Forbidden City. That is why the Emperor's throne room tops the list of the Forbidden City attractions you definitely don't want to miss when you visit Beijing. Now, onto the Palace of Earthly Tranquility:
The Palace of Earthly Tranquility
The Palace of Earthly Tranquility is the third palace in the inner court of the Forbidden City. Built in 1420 and rebuilt in later years after two subsequent fires, the Palace of Earthly Tranquility is the only example of Manchurian architecture found in the Forbidden City. The palace was the Empress's residence during the Ming and early Qing Dynasties. Traditionally, the Emperor and his wife spent their wedding night at the Palace of Earthly Tranquility. After the ceremony, which was held in one of the main halls, the Emperor and his wife would adjourn to a private chamber located in the back of the palace to consummate their marriage. The Palace of Earthly Tranquility was also a traditional place of worship. During the Qing Dynasty, the palace was outfitted with many prayer mats, candles, incense, shrines, statues and a large kitchen where animals could be slaughtered and prepared as sacrifices.
Jade in the Forbidden City
There are about 30,000 pieces of ancient jade on display in the Forbidden City. Most pieces are from the Qing Dynasty. All of the jade artifacts are rare and of high value - indeed, it is difficult to find so many rare and valuable pieces of jade displayed in one place. If you are interested in jade and valuable antiques, you definitely shouldn't miss this precious place. The Forbidden City is an amazing chance for you to learn more about China and its long and varied history. Of course, if you read this article, you've already learned something about the Forbidden City and already know some of the Forbidden City attractions you definitely don't want to miss, but nothing compares to the amazement you will experience once you visit the Forbidden and see its many fine palaces and tourist attractions for yourself.