Last Day at the Forbidden Palace
Beijing Travel Blog› entry 13 of 14 › view all entries
I had saved the best for my Last day here in China, the Forbidden Palace. Headed towards the Square with Cyril, (the French 40'sh guy I met at the hostel last night who just got here and didnt seem to know where to start) to meet up with Helen at 9 am. Have totally allocated one whole day for the Imperial Grounds hoping to not miss any hall on the palace grounds. The air was still chilly at 3degrees, yet tourists and groups of school kids on a field trip now crowded the entrance gate which only the emperor could pass during the peak of the Chinese dynasty. Although several of the more well-known buildings were, unfortunately, undergoing renovations at this time in preparation for the 2008 Olympics, there was still enough to see that would ensure a full-day's worth of sightseeing.
The Imperial Palace, called Gu Gong in Chinese, was the imperial palace during the Ming and Qing dynasties. Now known as the Palace Museum, it is the world's largest palace complex and covers 74 hectares. Surrounded by a six meter deep moat and a ten meter high wall are 9,999 buildings, each somehow uniform in color and structure and with amazing roof designs. Since yellow is the symbol of the royal family, it is the dominant color in the Forbidden City. Roofs are built with yellow glazed tiles; decorations in the palace are painted yellow; even the bricks on the ground are made yellow by a special process. However, there is one exception. Wenyuange, the royal library, has a black roof. The reason is that it was believed black represented water then and could extinguish fire.
You can't visit Beijing without seeing the Imperial Palace at least once in your lifetime. As it is quite expansive, you probably won't see everything in one visit. After walking for a few good hours, a lot of the buildings started to look the same and it seems more joy is to be had by simply wandering. There's even the infamous Starbucks near the clock and treasury museum where an additional 10Yuan entrance is required for each (very worth it!).
Walking through the Forbidden City gave us a sense of its incredible expanse, beauty, and the rich history of China's empire. A good last day for my trip.