The Meridian Gate The Forbidden City For over 490 years, 14 emperors of the Ming dynasty and 10 emperors of the Qing dynasty had reigned and resided here, until 1924 when the last emperor in China – Puyi was driven out of the Inner Court. The world´s largest palace complex covers a floor space of 720,000 square meters; is 960 meters long and 750 meters wide with 9,999 buildings. It is now listed by the UN as World Cultural Heritage Site in 1987
For fear that enemy might try to tunnel into the city, the ground beneath the courtyard was paved with fifteen layers of bricks; seven layers lengthwise and eight layers crosswise.
Five white marble bridges stretching over the “ Golden Water River ” ( Jinshui Chiao ) across the Gate of Supreme Harmony, which represent the five Confucian virtues of Benevolence, Wisdom, Righteousness, Rites and Fidelity.
Yellow glazed-tile roof adorned with dragons. The number of dragons determines the importance of the building. The Hall of Supreme Harmony, being the most important ceremonial building in the Forbidden City, features 12 lions on the roof Entering through the central archway was the emperors' exclusive privilege; their empresses were allowed to use this passage only once - on their wedding day. The east opening was for the ministers while the west opening was for the imperial family. The other openings were for other officials. Ordinary people were absolutely forbidden to enter the city.
The Hall of Supreme Harmony ( TaiHeDian ) 太和殿 , Where the emperor held his court to handle the state affairs. Grand ceremonies as coronations of new emperors and other ceremonies which marked Emperors´ birthday, wedding, Winter Solstice and New Year were held here.
The gilded sandalwood throne in the Hall of Supreme Harmony
The gilded sandalwood throne where the last Qing emperor Puyi ascended the throne at the age of three, in 1908 Above the throne is a gold painted caisson, or coffered ceiling. The magnificent esculpture on the ceiling shows two dragons playing with a huge pearl. The pearls were made of glass and painted with mercury. It was said to be the earliest mirror made in ancient China. It symbolized that the Emperor was the legitimate successor
Hall of Complete Harmony ( ZhongHeDian ), was a place of rest on the way to the Hall of Supreme Harmony and rehearsals for ceremonies of the emperor
Throne in the Hall of Complete Harmony – ZhongHeDian
Three tiered Sumeru marble terraces. To the right is the Hall of Complete Harmony and to the left is the Hall of Preserved Harmony.
Hall of the Preserved Harmony ( BaoHeDian ), was used as imperial banquet hall. During the Qing Dynasty, triennial imperial examinations for Confucian scholars from all over the country were held here.
Throne inside the Hall of Preserved Harmony - BaoHeDian
Hall of Imperial Supremacy (Huangjidian) was the home of the Qianlong Emperor after his retirement in 1795, at the age of 84. This palace resembles the Hall of Supreme Harmony, however, it rests only on a single tier Sumeru terrace,
Gate of Celestial Purity ( QianQingMen ) is the main entrance to the inner court, the living quarters of the emperor and his royal family.
Palace of Celestial Purity ( QianQingGong ) 乾清宫 , where the emperors used to live and handle daily affairs of the nation.
The Hall of Celestial Purity was used as audience chamber to receive envoys and foreign ambassadors who presented their tributes to the emperor
The Hall of Union and Peace ( JiaoTaiDian ) 25 imperial jade seals are conserved here inside golden boxes covered with yellow silk A western chiming clock made in 1789
The Hall of Mental Cultivation ( YangXinDian ) was the residence of eight Qing emperors since Emperor Yongzheng and the final point of Imperial rule in China, where Empress Dowager Cixi signed Puyi´s letter of abdication
Imperial wedding chamber at the Palace of Earthly Tranquility ( Kunninggong ) The Hall of Festive Joy ( Yanxitang ), the waiting room for concubines and palace maids called upon to wait on the emperor in the Hall of Mentally Cultivation
The plaque hanging above the throne in the Hall of Mental Cultivation bears the Chinese characters meaning "just and benevolent" in Emperor Yongzheng's own handwriting.
Bookshelves on both sides of the throne keeping books on the experiences and lessons that the preceding emperors had drawn in ruling the country. The Hall was used as the audience chamber, where the emperor read documents, granted audience to officials and summoned his ministers for consultation.
Chime clock of Qing Dynasty made around 1797. It is 5.85 mts high The Exibition Hall of Clocks and Watches, in which houses about 200 clocks and watches from the imperial collection, mostly gifts presented to the emperor
Each of the watchtowers at the four corners of the Forbidden City has 9 roof beams, 18 pillars and 72 ridgepoles, all multiple numbers of 9. Summing up: 9+18+72=99 . In the feng-shui concept, 9 is a homonym to “ everlasting ” Smoke signals could be sent as means of communication from the Forbidden City to the watchtowers of the Great Wall Sedan chair was used to shuttle the Emperor around the Forbidden City
The Pavilion of a Thousand Autumns ( Qianqiu ), inside the Imperial Garden ( YuHuaYuan )
Gate of Divine Prowess (Shenwumen) is the north gate of the Forbidden City. On its tower, bells were struck in the morning and drums beaten in the evening in the old days to mark time. Chongzhen, the last emperor of the Ming Dynasty, went through the Gate of Divine Prowess to the Coal Hill to hang himself in 1644.