The Forbidden City

Beijing, China

The Forbidden City, at the center of the ancient city of Beijing, was home to 24 emperors during the Ming and Qing dynasties. Today, the Forbidden City is a public museum and World Heritage site, attracting millions of tourists from around the world.

In this guide, we open the doors of the Forbidden City and tour inside this beautiful palace with its long 500 year history. The guide includes over 500 photographs of the Forbidden City and describes in detail all the main places of interest. It also presents a useful Forbidden City map.

In the early 1400s, the third Ming Emperor, YongLe, moved the capital of China to Beijing. In 1406, he began construction of a new 'Forbidden City' that would include the imperial palace complex.

The Forbidden City, located at the exact center of the ancient city of Beijing, was the home and center of power for 24 emperors during the mid to latter Ming and Qing dynasties.

Today, the Forbidden City is a public museum, drawing the attention of millions of travellers and tourists from around the world. At the Forbidden City you can see the traditional architecture up close and marvel at the treasures of the imperial family and its court.

Now officially renamed as the 'Palace Museum' ('GuGong' in chinese, meaning simply 'old palace'), the extensive grounds of the Forbidden City cover 720,000 square meters (74 hectares). There are 800 buildings that have in total about 9,000 rooms. The Forbidden City is the world's largest palace complex.

Indeed, the Forbidden City is listed by UNESCO as the largest collection of preserved ancient wooden structures in the world, and was declared a World Heritage Site in 1987.

The Forbidden City is located directly to the north of Tian'AnMen Square and is accessible from the square via Tian'AnMen Gate.

Although no longer occupied by royalty, the Forbidden City remains a symbol of sovereignty and the image of its entrance gate appears on the seal of the People's Republic of China.

The Forbidden City has become one of the most popular tourist attractions in the world. Visitors can see the traditional palace architecture, enjoy the treasures kept in the palace, and learn of the legends and anecdotes about the imperial family and the court.

The chinese government have invested a lot of time and money in the the Forbidden City and it is now a fantastic place to wander and dream of times gone by. White marble, walls of terra-cotta, roofs of glazed golden tiles, and woodwork finished with vermillion paint, lacquer and gilding unite to create an effect of outstanding beauty.

Recently, the Forbidden City has been under a major renovation that has limited visitors to a few areas. However, it remains open and the great majority of places are accessible.