The Forbidden City of Ancient China | History, Facts

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During the Ming and Qing dynasties, the Chinese emperors resided in the Forbidden City. The largest historic palace in the world, it is situated in the center of Beijing, the capital of China.

When was it constructed?

Between the years 1406 and 1420, the Forbidden City was constructed on the command of the ruthless Yongle Emperor of the Ming Dynasty. The massive palace’s construction involved more than a million people. The best materials, including specially produced “golden” bricks, logs from the endangered Phoebe zhennan trees, and marble blocks, were brought in from all around China. The Yongle Emperor relocated the imperial seat of government to Beijing after the palace was finished.

The Forbidden City is how big?

The Forbidden City is huge. On its 178 acres, there are 90 palaces with courtyards, 980 different structures, and at least 8,700 rooms. There are more than 1,600,000 square feet of floor space in all. Imagine if cleaning that floor was your responsibility. However, the emperor had an army of attendants to look after his palace and everyone who resided there.


The Forbidden City was also a fortress that guarded the Emperor and his household. A 170 foot wide moat and a 26 foot high wall enclose it. Guards used to keep an eye out for adversaries and assassins from the lofty guard towers that are located in each corner of the palace.

The major gate, the Meridian Gate to the south, is one on each side of the palace. The Gate of Divine Might to the north, the East Glorious Gate, and the West Glorious Gate are the other gates.


The Forbidden City’s design was based on numerous ancient Chinese design principles. All of the main structures were arranged in a straight line running from north to south. The palace is divided into two main areas: the inner court and the outer court.

Outer court – The outer court is the southernmost area of the palace. The emperors had their official ceremonies here. The Hall of Preserving Harmony, the Hall of Central Harmony, and the Hall of Supreme Harmony are the three primary structures in the outer court. The Hall of Supreme Harmony is the biggest of the three. During the Ming dynasty, the emperors held court in this structure.

Inner Court: The emperor and his family resided in the inner court, which is to the north. The Palace of Heavenly Purity, a structure, was where the monarch himself slept. The Palace of Earthly Tranquility, where the Empress resided.

Unique Symbolism

The Forbidden City was created utilizing the symbols and philosophy of Ancient China. Here are a few illustrations:

  • All of the structures faced south, which represented sanctity. Additionally, they were turned away towards the north, which stood for the Chinese people’s foes, chilly winds, and evil.
  • The city’s structures have yellow tiles covering their roofs. The emperor’s distinctive hue was yellow, which spoke for his supreme power.
  • The ceremonial structures are organized in three-building clusters. Heaven was represented by the number three.
  • Because they symbolize the majesty of the emperor, the numbers nine and five are frequently employed.
  • The palace’s design incorporates all five traditional elements’ hues. White, black, red, yellow, and green are some examples.
  • The library’s roof was painted black to represent water and shield the manuscripts from flames.

Is it still standing now?

Yes, Beijing’s Forbidden City is still located in the heart of the city. Thousands of ancient Chinese relics and artifacts are now housed there in the Palace Museum.

Interesting Forbidden City information:

Over the course of approximately 500 years, the palace was home to 24 successive Chinese emperors.

On the palace, some 100,000 artisans and craftsmen toiled.

Puyi, the country’s final emperor, lived in the Forbidden City for an additional twelve years after ceding the throne in 1912.

Zijin Cheng, which translates to “Purple Forbidden City” in Chinese, was the old Chinese name for the palace. The palace is now known as “Gugong,” which translates to “Former Palace.”

The Forbidden City served as the backdrop for the film The Last Emperor.

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