The Forbidden City Tour Guide


The Forbidden City also called the Imperial Palace Museum, which was built by Emperor Yong Le, the third Emperor of the Ming Dynasty. The construction continued from 1406 to 1420 but the palace buildings were burnt down, rebuilt, renovated for many times. There are 24 emperors once lived and wielded their power in the Forbidden City for over 500 years. In 1925 the Forbidden City was open to public. It was listed by the UNESCO as World Cultural Heritage in 1987.It is one of the most important tourist attractions in China. The Forbidden City is encircled by a 52-meter-wide, 6-meter-deep moat and a 10-meter-high, 3,400-meter-long city wall which has one gate on each side. The Forbidden City covers an area of 72 hectares. It is 960 meters long and 750 meters wide. There are over 8,700 rooms covered by yellow glazed tile roofs, which look very magnificent and dignified. There are four unique turrets overlooking the city inside and outside on the four corners. Generally, it was divided into two parts, the southern half, or the Outer Court where emperors executed their supreme power over the nation and the northern half, or the Inner Court where they lived with their royal family. There are numerous valuable historical relics collected by ancient emperors in the Forbidden City. Some of them are on exhibition.

Panorama of the Forbidden City
The Main Gate of the Forbidden City, the Meridian Gate
Panorama of the Forbidden City
The Main Gate of the Forbidden City, the Meridian Gate

More Stories about the Forbidden City.
The Meridian Gate It is the outer front gate and also the southern gate of the Forbidden City, embodying the solemnity and dignity of the Imperial Palace. With five pavilions on top, it is also called “Five-phoenix Tower”. It formed into the shape of the letter “U”. There are three main gateways and two side gateways through it. The central gateway was exclusively reserved for the emperor, but the empress had the right to go through it only once in her life at her wedding ceremony and the scholars who came the first, the second and the third in the Imperial Examination presided over by the emperor were permitted to leave the palace through it. All other high-ranking officials were permitted to go through the left gateway and the members of the royal family were permitted to go through the right gateway. The other petty officials could do the entry by the two side gateways.
There are bell tower and drum tower built on top. When the emperor presided in court drum would be beaten and bell would be sounded. When the emperor went to the Temple of Heaven to offer sacrifice the bell would be sounded. The drum would be beaten when the emperor went to the Ancestral Temple to offer sacrifices.
Every Winter Solstice, the emperor would promulgate the next year’s lunar almanac on the Meridian Gate. "The “Presenting captives’ ceremony” was held in front the Meridian Gate. The generals would present captives from the victory wars to the emperor to get awards here in the Qing Dynasty. In the Ming Dynasty, the place in front of the Meridian Gate was also used for punishing the officials who offended the emperor, by flogging on the bottom. That was called” Court Flogging”. In 1519, the ministers advised the emperor to cancel a trip to South China. That made the emperor very angry because he wanted to choose more beauties by that tour. So he had some 130 officials flogged by court guards. 11 of them died of the torture. In 1524, one emperor had 134 officials published on one time and 17 of them were beaten to death on the spot. In Qing Dynasty this cruel practice was abolished.
The Gate of Supreme Harmony It is the front gate of the three main outer halls in the Forbidden City. In the Ming Dynasty, it was a place for the emperors to hear the reports by his officials and also to make important decisions. In the Qing Dynasty, the emperor would alight from his carried chair to take a canopied chariot here on the way to offer sacrifices to altar temples. The Qing emperors once held the banquets here. Ceremonies for receiving dowry, wedding and conferring the title to the empress would pass this gate.

The Hall of Supreme Harmony, the Throne Hall
The Amperor's Throne

The Hall of Supreme Harmony Every year, grand celebrations were held here on the first day of the first lunar month, the day of the Winter Solstice and the emperor’s birthday. Other important ceremonies such as issuing the imperial edict about the new emperor’s enthronement, announcing the list of the successful candidates from the imperial examination and dispatching a general on an expedition would be held here. Imperial examinations were held here in the Ming Dynasty and the beginning of the Qing Dynasty.
The Hall of Complete Harmony Before going to the Hall of Supreme Harmony for grand ceremonies, the emperor would take a short rest here and make some preparations. The emperor could receive his ministers to listen to the report about the arrangement of the ceremony. The emperor also reviewed the sacrificial address before going to the Temple of Heaven to offer sacrifice. Before the sacrifice was offered at the Temple of Agriculture, the emperor would hold a ceremony to check the grain seeds for sowing and the farming tools for use.
The Hall of Preserving Harmony In the early days of the Ming Dynasty, banquets were set to entertain the emperor’s son in law and other top officials. In the later period of the 18th century, it was a place for palace examinations. In the Qing Dynasty, banquet was given here on every New Year’s Eve for entertaining the Mongolian nobles and officials.
He in Chinese means the harmonized relation among various things in the world. Taihe means that the relations between various things in universe are in perfect. Zhonghe means impartial, i.e. to handle things in a proper and restrained way so that relations between the various things could be kept in harmony without going astray. Baohe denotes to keep in order the harmonized relations already obtained between various things.
The Hall of Heavenly Purity From the Ming Dynasty to the early days of the Qing Dynasty, it was a place where the emperors resided and handled his routine affairs. During Emperor Yongzheng’s Reign period, he moved to work and stay in the Hall of Mental Cultivation. Occasionally he came here to receive his officials and envoys, go over memorials and work out policies. After the emperor died, his coffin would be laid here for a few days. From Emperor Kangxi, the crowned prince would not be announced avoiding the princes’ killing each other. The emperor would write down the name of heir prince on one paper and seal it inside a box, which would be put behind the board of “Being Open and Aboveboard” in this hall. When the emperor passed away, the box would be opened and the successor to throne would be announced right on the spot.
The Hall of Union and Peace Celebration was held here on the birthday of the empress. In 1748, Emperor Qianlong put 25 imperial seals representing the supreme royal power here. Besides, some clocks and a copper clepsydra were placed here. In the Qing Dynasty, the ceremonial rites would be held here before the empress went out to offer sacrifice on the Altar of Silkworm.
The Hall of Earthly Tranquility In the Ming Dynasty, it was called “Central Palace” lived by the empress. In the Qing Dynasty, the west part became a place to offer sacrifices to gods, the east part was the bridal chamber for the emperor and the empress. Emperor Kangxi, Emperor Tonzhi and Emperor Guangxu all were married here.
The Hall of Mental Cultivation
From the Emperor Yongzheng to the end of the Qing Dynasty, the hall was a place where the emperor lived. The room in the middle was used to receive ministers and foreign envoys. The books on the shelf were the experiences and lessons gained by the previous emperors. They were left for the coming emperors. The emperor used the western room to read and comment memorials and planned political and military decisions together with ministers. The eastern room was a place for Empress Dowager Cixi to exercise her “Ruling Behind the Curtain” during the reigning periods of Tongzhi and Guangxu. In 1911 the imperial edict of abdication was announced from here. The rear hall was the bedchamber of the emperor. Shunzhi, Qianlong and Tongzhi in Qing Dynasty all passed away here.

Sundial and grain measures
The Sun Dial, a time-meter invented in ancient China and firstly was used in Qin Dynasty 2,000 years ago. Using the projection by sun and the principle of the rotation of the earth, ittells time by shadow
projected by handle on the dial-panel with an inclination angle of 50 degrees. In the center of the sundial panel, standing an iron handle at a right angle. Its upper tip points to the North Pole and the other end to the South Pole.

The Imperial Garden inside the Forbidden City
The Emperor's Bed Room
The Imperial Garden

On both sides of the dial-penal are carved with a time divisions of the 12 two-hour periods. From morning to night the shadow of the handle on the upper side of the dial goes anti-clockwise and the handle on other side goes the other way around. After Vernal Equinox the time is read by the shadow on the upper side and by that on reverse side after the Autumnal Equinox. The Imperial Grain Measure “Jialiang” It was a complete set of standard volume measures in ancient China. The whole set consists of five volume units: Hu, Dou, Sheng, He and Yue. In accordance with the traditional system, two “Yue” equal to a “He”, ten “he” equal to a “Sheng”, ten “Sheng” equal to a “Dou”, and ten “Dou” equal to a “Hu”. But latter changed into five “Dou” a “Hu”.
Eunuch in Feudal China Eunuchs were castrated male attendants whose official job was to supervise the management of daily business in the palace and look after the emperors’ life. Using the eunuchs in the court had existed for more than 2,000 years. In the Ming Dynasty, by the time of Wanli (1573-1620) there were over ten thousand eunuchs in the capital. The eunuchs lived close to the emperor to serve the royal family. So they became crucial intermediaries between the outer bureaucrats and the inner royal members. Some bad eunuchs became very powerful and tyrannical to persecute the faithful and honest, which would lead the politics to darkness. Like Weizhongxian, a famous eunuch in the Ming Dynasty, he was so powerful that he even could dominate to choose the succeeding emperor. In the beginning of the Qing Dynasty, strict laws were made to restrain the behaviors of eunuchs. But later eunuchs became powerful again because Empress Dowager Cixi needed to collide with them to rule China. For example, Eunuch Liliangying was a famous, powerful and favored one in the late of the Qing Dynasty.
Coffered ceiling It is called the skylight in ancient times. With beautiful decorations such as dragons and flowers it was only used on palatial buildings, temples or mansions for reverend lords to show the masters’ dignity and solemnity; no houses of common people were allowed to use it. A concave in the shape of well was made at the most important part of the ceiling of a building, such as above the throne or Buddha statue, hence the name” coffered ceiling” It was also said that the coffered ceiling could keep the fire.
The five famous Famous palaces in the world
The Forbidden City In Beijing, China, Buckingham Palace in England, White House in America, Chateau de Versailles in France, Kremlin in Russia.

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