Zǐjìnchéng: literally Purple Forbidden City,
was the imperial palace of China since the mid-Ming Dynasty to the end of the Qing Dynasty.
The Forbidden City is located in central Beijing, China.
Currently, the entire palace complex is best known as Palace Museum, and covers an area of
720,000 sqm - equivalent to a square of 9 by 8 blocks - with 980 surviving buildings, and just over
8,700 rooms. The main entrance is located on the largest square in the world - Tiananmen, which
measures about 260,000 sqm.
The Forbidden City is surrounded by a wall 7.9 m high with average depth of 7.5 m and that at south,
has five drilled passages constituting the main entrance - Meridian Gate, by Tiananmen Square. The
middle opening is part of the Imperial Way, a stone path running north-south, which only the emperor
could pass, with the exception of the Empress on the occasion of her marriage.
Anyone who dared to cross the gates without permission was subject to summary and painful
It was part of the tradition that the doors of all halls and imperial garden were decorated
with nine rows of nine nails.
The beggining of construction of the Forbidden City was in 1407, but by 1420 it was already
completed. One million workers, including 100,000 artisans, worked hard in the long task.
For more than five centuries it served as the residence of the Emperor and his domestic staff,
being the ceremonial and political center of the Chinese government.
Hence, it was the seat of a government that commanded the most populous empire on earth,
and it remains the largest palace in the world.
After the main entrance - Meridian Gate - to reach the interior of the Palace one needs to cross the 52
m wide and 6 m depth moat that surrounds it. Only then there is an access to the first Gate - that of
Supreme Harmony, which by its stairs has two bronze lions.
Hall of Supreme Harmony - was the symbol of imperial power and so has the tallest
structure: 35.02 m high besides the decorated ceiling that, added, reaches 37,44 m. To
sustain such a structure, there are 72 pillars distributed in six rows.
Plaque in the facade with the name of the Hall of Supreme Harmony
Courtyard between Gate of Supreme Harmony and Hall of Supreme Harmony
Hall of Supreme Harmony – TaiHeDian - in this hall is the sandalwood throne
that was once one of the symbols of imperial power.
The Ming throne of the Hall of Supreme Harmony is gold painted and is hundreds of years old.
Although it had been the greatest symbol of power in the first half of last century, with the decaying
turbulence of state affairs, it was abandoned and remained missing for nearly 50 years.
The Forbidden City is listed by UNESCO as the largest collection of
preserved ancient wooden structures in the world.
The number of statuettes at the edge of the roofs represents the importance of
buildings. The smaller one may have three to five of them.
The Hall of Supreme Harmony has 10 - the only building that
could have that much in the imperial era.
Hall of Supreme Harmony - starting from left, an immortal riding a phoenix, followed by: a
dragon, a phoenix, a lion, a heavenly steed, a seahorse, a SuAnNi, a YaYu, a XieZhi, one DouNiu
and a HangSh.
It's so much beauty that gives rise to a neologism - a dazzliness!
If the ceilings boast dazzling decoration, the floors of the main halls were paved with “golden
bricks” that took months cooking, resulting in soft bricks that play with a metallic sound.
Painel dos nove
In front of the Palace of Tranquil Longevity, is the largest and best of Nine Dragons panels in
China, measuring 3.5 m in height and about 30 m in length. The dragon was the symbol of
longevity, and also of the union of heaven and earth.
Gate of Heavenly Purity
Gilded female lion – Qing Imperial Guardian
Lion - protecting its cub.
Gilded male lion holding the ornament
representing the world.
Imperial Dragon Throne in the Hall of Preserved Harmony. This is one of the three central halls of
Forbidden City, near the Hall of Heavenly Purity and of Supreme Harmony. It resembles the latter, but
in much smaller scale.
Hall of Preserving Harmony
Relief on the stairs next to the throne room. The block of marble weights about 250 tons and is
16.57 m long, 3.7 m wide, and 1.7 m in depth.
From a golden bas-relief, at the residential part of the Forbidden City.
A room inside the Forbidden City with the traditional Chinese wedding decorations.
After the Japanese offensive in 1931, the entire palace complex was devastated.
In 1933, by order of Chiang Kai
Check, more than 3,000 chests
were filled with carefully crafted
packets, within which treasures
were secretly transported through
China to Taiwan, saving from the
Japanese invasion Chinese relics
5,000 years old.
Even after the return of many of
these treasures, there are many
pieces of the Forbidden City’s
collection not yet exposed.
This and the following photos are
of relics displayed in the Palace
An Imperial Crown
But now, at this time, the Sun is beginning to set…
... and the lights are lit announcing that this day, at Forbidden City, has ended.
In a state of perplexity for the unforgettable day, what is left is a walk around Tiananmen Square with
your chest filled with a feeling that you know you’ll never be able to fully express...
Images - All drawn from the Net with the respective credits
Music - All by Gabriel Yared,
from the soundtrack of L’Amant de la Chine du Nord
1 - Ce jour-là sur le Mekong
2 – L’Amant
Creation, research, compilation and formatting :
Delza Dias Ferreira
English version: Flavio Musa de Freitas Guimarães
São Paulo, XII - 2011
Forbidden City Map : http://www.peacham.com/china/large/forbiddenmap.gif?169,167