The Forbidden City (Beijing, 17th century)

The Forbidden City (Beijing, 17th century)

The Forbidden City is one of the most magnificent and mysterious monuments of imperial China.

History

Keywords

Forbidden City, Hall of Supreme Harmony, Beijing, China, imperial period, emperor, palace complex, throne room, capital city, Qin dynasty, Ming dynasty, imperial residence, Imperial City, World Heritage, Imperial Garden, Golden Water River, Prospect Hill, 17th century, purple, empire, Asia, city, centre, Middle Ages, modern history, hall, gate, corner tower, garden, yard, moat, wall, history, architecture, history of art, civilisation

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Questions

  • The centre of which empire was the Forbidden City?
  • Which city is the Forbidden City located in?
  • In which century was the forbidden city built?
  • During the reign of which imperial dynasty was the Forbidden city built?
  • What does 'forbidden' in the name of the palace complex refer to?
  • What is the Chinese name of the palace complex?
  • What was one of the basic functions of the Forbidden City?
  • What does 'cheng' in the name of the Forbidden City mean?
  • For how many years was the Forbidden City home for Chinese emperors?
  • When did the Forbidden City lose its former role?
  • What size area does the Forbidden City occupy?
  • What was the shape of the Forbidden City?
  • How many buildings can be found within the Forbidden City today?
  • What is Forbidden City surrounded by?
  • How high are the walls surrounding the Forbidden City?
  • How many gates does the Forbidden City have?
  • What are the gates of the Forbidden City decorated with?
  • What is the largest building in the Forbidden City?
  • What surrounded the Forbidden City previously?
  • Which statement is true for the Forbidden City?
  • Which of the following is China's largest wooden hall?
  • What is the area of the base of the Hall of Supreme Harmony?
  • What was the symbolic colour of Chinese emperors?
  • What indicated the importance of the buildings in the Forbidden city?
  • In which part of the Forbidden City was the private residence of the emperor situated?
  • What is the Forbidden City called today?
  • What was the colour of the walls surrounding the Forbidden City?

Scenes

Forbidden City

The Yongle Emperor, the third emperor of the Ming dynasty decided to move the imperial capital from Nanjing to Beijing in 1369. The Forbidden City was built in the first quarter of the following century, between 1406 and 1420.

This magnificent palace complex functioned as the political and ceremonial centre of the Chinese Empire for almost 500 years, until the early 20th century. It also served as a venue for the most important ceremonies and religious rituals, and provided home for 24 Chinese emperors, 14 of them during the Ming dynasty and 10 during the Qing dynasty. With the abdication of the last Chinese Emperor, Puyi, in 1912 it lost these roles.

The Chinese name of the palace complex is Zijin Cheng, which means Purple Forbidden City. The name consists of the following parts: 'Zi', referring to the colour of the surrounding walls and ancient Chinese name of the North Star, Ziwei (the heavenly abode of the 'Celestial Emperor'); 'jin' meaning forbidden and referring to the fact that entering or leaving the area required the emperor's permission; and Cheng, meaning walled city.

Today the Forbidden City is also known as Old Palace. It is in the charge of the Palace Museum and is visited by millions of tourists every year. On the busiest days, the number of visitors exceeds 100,000. As one of the most magnificent and mysterious monuments of imperial China and the largest complex of ancient wooden structures, it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987.

Structure

  • Forbidden City - The Forbidden City was built on a rectangular area covering approximately 720 thousand m². Its sides measure 961 in the north-south direction and 753 m in the east-west direction.
  • Imperial City - The Forbidden City was embedded in the Imperial City. It was also surrounded by walls and contained the facilities servicing the court of the Emperor. The kitchen and the Imperial Gardens were also located here.
  • moat - The palace complex is surrounded by a 52 m wide and and 6 m deep moat. It used to protect the Forbidden City.
  • wall - The palace complex is surrounded by 7.9 m high and 8.62 m thick walls. These used to protect the Forbidden City.
  • Outer Court - Traditionally, the Forbidden City is divided into two parts. The Outer (or Front) Court includes the southern sections. This part was used primarily for ceremonial purposes in the Chinese empire.
  • Inner Court - Traditionally, the Forbidden City is divided into two parts. The Inner (or Back) Court includes the northern sections. This part was the residence of the Emperor and his family, and was used for day-to-day affairs of state.
  • watchtower - The Forbidden City was built on a rectangular area. Watchtowers were built on each corner, with intricate roof structures, providing a spectacular sight for visitors outside the walls.
  • gate - Gate buildings were built on each side of the Forbidden City. They had several arches and the doors were embellished with golden nails in 9 rows and 9 columns. Today only the southern Meridian Gate serves as an entrance to the palace complex.
  • Imperial Garden - There was a relatively small garden in the Inner Court, created for the emperor's family. The trees, rocks, pavilions and incense holders are arranged according to the traditions of Chinese garden planning.
  • Prospect Hill (Jingshan Park) - An artificial hill built from the soil excavated when forming the moat around the Forbidden City. It is approx. 45 m high and is located in Jinghsan Park, north of the Forbidden City itself, along its north-south axis. It is commonly called Feng Shui Hill or Coal Hill by the locals.
  • Golden Water River - An artificial stream meandering in the Outer Court, crossed by five stone bridges that are in fact the extensions of the five passages of the Meridian Gate.

The Forbidden City is the world's largest surviving palace complex. It was built on a rectangular area covering approximately 720 thousand m². Its sides measure 961 in the north-south direction and 753 m in the east-west direction. The construction required more than a million workers.

The Forbidden City was embedded within the Imperial City which, in turn, was part of the Inner City. It lied north of the Outer City of medieval Beijing.

Each of these parts were surrounded by walls. The Forbidden City itself was surrounded by 7.9 m high walls and a 6 m deep and 52 m wide moat. At the four corners of the wall, watchtowers were built, and gates were added on each side.

The Forbidden City is traditionally divided into two parts. The southern, larger part is called the Outer Court, while the northern one is known as the Inner Court.

Gates

  • Meridian Gate
  • West Glorious Gate
  • Gate of Divine Might
  • East Glorious Gate
  • Gate of Supreme Harmony
  • Gate of Heavenly Purity

Palaces and halls

  • Hall of Supreme Harmony
  • Hall of Central Harmony
  • Hall of Preserving Harmony
  • Palace of Heavenly Purity
  • Hall of Mental Cultivation
  • Hall of Military Eminence
  • Hall of Literary Glory
  • Palace of Tranquil Longevity

The Forbidden City consists of 980 buildings, the largest and most important of which are the palaces and halls. There are also temples, shrines and other buildings on the territory of the Forbidden City.

The most outstanding building of the Forbidden City is the Hall of Supreme Harmony, considered the central building in the Empire and venue for the most important ceremonies. It is the largest wooden hall in China, with a base area of approximately 2300 m². The 27 m tall structure stands on a three-level marble base. It is 64 m wide and 34 m long; its roof structure is supported by 86 wooden pillars. The gold-lacquered imperial throne stands in the centre of the hall.

The design of the Forbidden City was based on traditional Chinese philosophical and religious principles. Besides these, symbols of the power of the emperor also played an important role in the construction.

The structure and arrangement of the buildings, the colours (e.g. yellow was the emperor's colour), and numbers all have a symbolic meaning. For example, the number of figurines placed along the ridgeline of official buildings indicates the importance of the building. The Hall of Supreme Harmony, being the most important building of all, features 12 figurines on the ridgeline of its roof, more than any other building.

Throne room

Imperial garden

  • Pavilion of Ten Thousand Springs
  • Pavilion of One Thousand Autumns
  • Pavilion of Crimson Snow
  • Lodge of the Nourishment of Nature
  • Palace of Imperial Peace
  • Hall of Imperial Peace
  • Pavilion Ushering in the Light
  • Palace of Gathered Elegance - It is also called the Hill of Splendor.

Narration

The Yongle Emperor, the third emperor of the Ming dynasty decided to move the imperial capital from Nanjing to Beijing in 1369. The Forbidden City was built in the first quarter of the following century, between 1406 and 1420. This magnificent palace complex functioned as the political and ceremonial centre of the Chinese Empire for almost 500 years, until the early 20th century. It also served as a venue for the most important ceremonies and religious rituals, and provided home for 24 Chinese emperors. With the abdication of the last Chinese Emperor, Puyi, in 1912, it lost these roles.

The Forbidden City is the world's largest surviving palace complex. It was built on a rectangular area covering approximately 720 thousand m². Its sides measure 961 in the north-south direction and 753 m in the east-west direction.

The Forbidden City consists of 980 buildings, the largest and most important of which are the palaces and halls. There are also temples, shrines and other buildings on the territory of the Forbidden City.

The most outstanding building of the Forbidden City is the Hall of Supreme Harmony, considered the central building in the Empire and venue for the most important ceremonies.

Today the Forbidden City is also known as Old Palace. It is in the charge of the Palace Museum and is visited by millions of tourists every year. On the busiest days, the number of visitors exceeds 100,000. As one of the most magnificent and mysterious monuments of imperial China and the largest complex of ancient wooden structures, it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987.

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