The Forbidden City

The Forbidden City (紫禁城 Zǐjìn chéng) was the residence of the imperial family during the last two Ming and Qing Dynasties. Its name comes from the fact that the entry was forbidden to any foreigner to the palace and his organization was like a small city. The architectural complex is impressive, but the great majority of valuables such as paintings and porcelain were taken to Taiwan by Chiang Kai-shek (Jiǎng Jièshí in Mandarin) and are displayed in the museum of Taipei ((Táibĕi in Mandarin)

The Forbidden City is located in the north of the city center of Beijing. It is headed south and a small artificial hill, the Coal Hill, was raised north of the Forbidden City to meet the demands of Chinese geomancy, the Fengshui (literally wind and water).

The Forbidden City is 960m long and 750m wide. The walls are from 7 to 10m high and the moat are 52m wide. During its occupation by the emperors of the last two dynasties for five centuries, no other building in Beijing could not exceed those of the Forbidden City. The courtyards are paved with nearly 12 million bricks and the Forbidden City consists of approximately 9,000 rooms.

The Forbidden City is also known as Old Palace (故宫 Gùgōng) but it refers more precisely the central part of the Forbidden City without the part between the Gate of Heavenly Peace (Tiān'ānmén) and the South Gate (Wǔmén).

History of the Forbidden City

This is the emperor Yongle, who decided to move the capital from Nanjing to Beijing. The construction of the Forbidden City began in 1406 and lasted fourteen years, which is very fast for a building of this size. More than 200,000 artisans participated in construction. The materials came from all corners of the empire: the stones of the regions of Beijing, marble from Shanghai, wood from provinces of Yunnan and Sichuan and bricks from Shandong. Construction allied modern techniques of the time while keeping the aesthetic and symbolic features of the tradition.

The Forbidden City was more or less cut off from the outside world until 1924 when Puyi, the last emperor, was driven out.

The Forbidden City was frequently caught fire, often produced by the eunuchs and courtiers who enriched themselves through the work of reconstruction. In 1664, the Manchus reduced the palace to ashes to rebuild the palace of the new dynasty on the former with high quality materials from again for the whole empire. Most of the buildings visible today date from the eighteenth century. During the twentieth century, the Forbidden City was sacked twice. First by the Japanese army, and by the Kuomintang, which fled to Taiwan in 1949.