Posted by: Waheeda Harris | June 12, 2014

A city within a city: the Forbidden City

I’m ashamed that I knew so little about Beijing’s Forbidden City – and the first thing I learned – that it was adjacent to another iconic place – Qianamen Square:

China - Qianamen Square

The iconic image of Chairman Mao hangs on the Heavenly Gate of Peace also known as the Qianamen Gate and is the entry of the Forbidden City.

But I didn’t realize that describing the former home of the emperors was actually true – it is a city. This massive walled city was the home of the monarchy – and the people who served them from servants to government officials. No one else was ever welcome inside.

China - Beijing FC entry

And although there was a lot of people who were in the Forbidden City, only the Emperor could walk on the marble path that led through the city – not even the Empress could walk on this regal path:

China - FC marble path

And although this has been open for decades, its no surprise that the Chinese are the number one tourists  to visit:

FC crowds

And that security is present, even with the hordes and high temperatures:

FC entry b

And my favourite spot, was at the opposite end of the city, the Imperial Garden, a lovely respite from the busy city and the 36C unrelenting sun and heat:

China - FC garden

This vast and immense home for the emperors was impressive – and the facts make it even more amazing – like that the courtyards, which were covered with bricks, were 15 layers of brick, to prevent those undesirables from trying to dig a tunnel to access the city.

FC courtyard


And my other fascination – was the rare sight of a throne. It took me a long time to get close enough for this photo, so I now can analyze the style, which at the time was a 10 second glance before I had to keep moving due to the crowds:

China - FC throne

And now as I edit, I’m more grateful for the experience to visit such a place – which is way beyond my previous experience of palaces and homes to monarchs. Its no wonder its become an icon of the world.


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