The Forbidden City is the most impressive monument in Beijing. Not a single monument, of course, but a series of buildings and palaces and courtyards that cover 74 hectares (that's 740,000 square meters, to the uninitiated). If you just want to get from the North Gate (The Gate of Martial Spirit) to the South Gate (Tian An Men, the Gate of Heavenly Peace, and entryway to Tiananmen Square), the walk will take you a little over an hour. And you'll miss about 70% of the huge, incredible palace complex. We devoted four hours to the City, and saw, in addition to the central corridor, mainly the Eastern courtyards and buildings. (Click here for a satellite map of the Forbidden City. Very cool.)
Click on any photo to enlarge.
The Forbidden Wall.
Forbidden North Gate.
Forbidden Folding Chair.
The lovely Imperial Garden. The complex textures of the trees, stones, and palace buildings themselves create a beautiful harmony.
Traditional lace-bark pine.
A relief of a dragon, running up the center of a staircase.
Partially-restored ceiling tiles.
A ceremonial room.
Passing out of the busy and crowded central corridor, and into one of the eastern courtyards.
This courtyard served a series of buildings that were the home of one of the emperor's favorite concubines.
Going through a gate, we came suddely upon a remarkable structure, totally unlike anything else in the palace, or in the entire city of Beijing. I was completely entranced by this marble and iron shell of a building, and its cold and desolate beauty.
On to Forbidden City, part II