Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Forbidden City, Beijing China

The magnificent Forbidden City was called so because it was off limits to commoners for 500 years. Most of the palace was trashed during the Chinese Cultural Revolution, however, it still remains China's largest and best preserved cluster of ancient buildings. It sheltered two dynasties - the Ming and Qing who did not stray from the city unless they absolutely had to, which made it an elitist community. A stultifying code of rules, protocol and superstition depended its other worldliness, from here the emperors governed China until 1911.

The wall enclosing the city was assembled from 12 million bricks. Most of the buildings are made of wood and for fear of fire, there are large bronze pots filled with water in case of an emergency. The City is 1 million square meters, there are over 800 buildings and over 9000 rooms; less than half the City is open to visitors.

For more information: TravelGuideChina and Wikipedia.

This is the Tienanmen, which means Gate of Heavenly Peace. Tienanmen Square was across the street. On either side of the picture of Mao Zedong, it the poetic slogan: Long live the People's Republic of China and on the right, Long live the unities of the people of the world.

It was freeeeezing outside! Peddlers were trying to sell hats and gloves to tourists who were unprepared.

As there are so many buildings, there is always construction going on. When one area is complete, they move to the next. By the time the 10 year circle is complete they start renovating all over again.

When it rained, these stone statues would have water pouring out.

You could differentiate the importance of each building by counting the number of animals in the corner. At the front sits a man on top of a chicken (this is not included). As you can see, this building has a total of 9 signifying high importance. This building was reserved for the emperor.

These are the bronze pots filled with water in case of fire.

In the Imperial Garden the Emperor and his favorite concubines (he had 1000 concubines!) played hide and go seek.