Palace Museum(Forbidden City)

Forbidden City
A Brief Introduction to the Palace Museum

The Palace Museum also know as the Purple Forbidden City. It is the largest and most well reserved imperial residence in China today. Under Ming Emperor Yongle, construction began in 1406. It took 14 years to build the Forbidden City. The first ruler who actually lived here was Ming Emperor Zhudi. For five centuries thereafter,it continued to be the residence of 24 successive emperors until 1911 when Qing Emperor Puyi was forced to abdicate the throne .In 1987, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization recognized the Forbidden City was a world cultural legacy.

It is believed that the Palace Museum, or Zi Jin Cheng (Purple Forbidden City), got its name from astronomy folklore, The ancient astronomers divided the constellations into groups and centered them around the Ziwei Yuan(North Star). The constellation containing the North Star was called the Constellation of Heavenly God and star itself was called the purple palace. Because the emperor was supposedly the son of the heavenly gods,his central and dominant position would be further highlighted the use of the word purple in the name of his residence.

In folklore, the term ”an eastern purple cloud is drifting” became a metaphor for auspicious events after a purple cloud was seen drifting eastward immediately before the arrival of an ancient philosopher, LaoZi, to the Hanghu Pass. Here, purple isassociated with auspicious developments. The word jin (forbidden) is self-explanatory as the imperial palace was heavily guarded and off explanatory as the imperial palace was heavily guarded and off-limits to ordinary people.

The red and yellow used on the palace wall sand roofs are also symbolic. Red represents happiness, good fortune and wealth.Yellow is the color of the earth on the Loess Plateau, the original home of the Chinese people. Yellow became an imperial color during the Tang dynasty, when only members of the royal family were allowed to wear it and use it in their architecture.

map of the Palace Museum
map of the Palace Museum

The Forbidden City is rectangular in shape. It is 960 meters long from north to south and 750meter wide from east west. It has 9,900 rooms under a total roof area 150,000 square meters .A 52-meter-wide-moat encircles a 9.9-meter—high wall which encloses the complex. Octagon —shaped turrets rest on the four corners of the wall.There are four entrances into the city:the Meridian Gate to the south, the Shenwu Gate(Gate of Military Prowess) to the north, and the Xihua Gate(Gate of military Prowess) to the north, and the Xihua Gate(Western Flowery Gate )to the west ,the Donghua (Eastern Flowery Gate) to the east.

Manpower and materials throughout the country were used to build the Forbidden City.A total of 230,000 artisans and one million laborers were employed. Marble was quarried from fangshan Country Mount Pan in Jixian County in Hebei Province.Granite was quarried in Quyang County in Hebei Province. Paving blockswere fired in kilns in Suzhou in southern China. Brick sand scarlet pigmentation used on the palatial walls came from linqing in Shandong Province .Timber was cut ,processed and hauled from the northwestern and southern regions.

Meridian Gate

The Meridian Gate  is the main entrance to the forbidden City. It is also knows as Wufenglou(Five-Phoenix Tower). Ming emperors held lavish banquets here on the 15th day of the first month of the Chinese lunar year in honor of their counties .They also used this place for punishing officials by flogging them with sticks.

Qing emperors used this building to announce the beginning of the new year. Qing Emperor Qianglong changed the original name of this announcement ceremony from ban li(announcement of calendar)to ban shou(announcement of new moon )to avoid coincidental association with another Emperor’s name, Hongli, which was considered a taboo at that time.

Qing Dynasty emperors also used this place to hold audience and for other important ceremonies. For example,when the imperial army returned victoriously from the battlefield ,it was here that the Emperor presided over the ceremony to accept prisoners of war.

How to Buy Tickets of Forbidden City

The museum allows 80,000 visitors a day. All visitors need to buy ticket online or by scanning the official QR code on site.

However English service is not ready yet on the official booking website, so foreigners need to buy tickets through travel agencies or Chinese friends. If it seems difficult, a ticket window is opened near the Meridian Gate for special needs and you may get a ticket from there. It is important to get there and buy tickets as early as possible, especially during holidays.

Real-name policy has been carried out in ticketing. ID cards of Chinese visitors and passports of foreigners need to be shown when buying tickets. Chinese need to swipe their ID cards at the entrance, while foreigners should go through the special channel(s) to have their passports checked.

Ticket Price Of The Palace Museum
Entrance Ticket April to October: CNY 60
November to March: CNY 40
Treasure Gallery CNY 10 (in Palace of Tranquil Longevity, including the Opera Museum and Stone Drum Museum)
Clock and Watch Gallery CNY 10 (In Hall for Ancestry Worship)


How to leave from the Forbidden City

Exit is allowed only through the Gate of Divine Prowess in the north of the museum, and the East Prosperity Gate.

Leaving from the Gate of Divine Prowess:

1.Take Bus 58, 101, 103, 109, 124, 128, Sightseeing Bus Line 1, Sightseeing Bus Line 2 or Sightseeing Bus Line 3 at Gugong (Forbidden City) Station.

2.Take Bus 58, 111, 124 or Sightseeing Bus Line 3 at Jingshan East Gate Station.

Leaving from the East Prosperity Gate:

1.Take Bus 2 or 82 at Donghuamen Station.

2.Take Sightseeing Line 2 at Gugong East Gate Station.

Opening Hours
Months Opening Hours Ticketing Time Entry Time
April to October 8:30-17:00 8:30-16:00 8:30-16:10
November to March 8:30-16:30 8:30-15:30 8:30-15:40

 It is closed on Mondays, except the Chinese statutory holidays.