The Forbidden City, situated in the center of Beijing, was the residence of 24 emperors of the Ming (1368–1644) and Qing (1644–1911) Dynasties. The Forbidden City is considered to be the best protected majestic palace of China as it truly demonstrates the traditional Chinese palatial architecture. It is comprehended as one of the most significant five palaces of the world along with the Palace of Versailles in France, Buckingham Palace of the UK, the White House of the USA and the Kremlin of Russia.
The Forbidden City was constructed by the third Ming emperor, Yongle, from 1406 to 1420, when he moved his capital from Nanjing to Beijing. Till the fall of the Qing dynasty in 1911 all the 24 successors ruled over China from this palace. After this the treasure of the palace was taken under the control of a palace museum committee and it was opened to the public on October 10, 1925.
The Forbidden City is surrounded by imperial gardens. Jingshan Park is located in the north and in the west lies Zhongnanhai, a former garden converging upon two interlinked lakes. The imperial Shrines are also situated in the south of the Forbidden City. The Forbidden City is the world’s largest surviving palace complex spread over an area of 178 acres. The whole gigantic complex has 980 surviving buildings with 8,707 bays of rooms.
The general entrance of the Forbidden City is through Tian’anmen (the Gate of Heavenly Peace.) which leads towards the main palace. While entering through Meridian Gate takes the visitor to the outer court while going across Golden Stream Bridge. Basically the Forbidden City may be categorized into two parts: the outer court and the inner court. The outer court consists of the southern sections of the palace and it was used for ceremonial purposes. It includes three main buildings, the Hall of Supreme Harmony (Taihedian), the Hall of Central Harmony (Zhonghedian) and the Hall of Preserving Harmony (Baohedian). Similarly the inner court is also comprising of three giant buildings at dorsal of the Forbidden City. These three buildings are named as Palace of Heavenly Peace (Qianqinggong), the Palace of Union and Peace (Jiaotaidian) and the Palace of Terrestrial Tranquility (Kunninggong). There are also many smaller palaces adjacent to these three vital palaces in which the emperors used to conduct their daily affairs, and now all these have been converted into exhibition halls displaying the marvelous imperial collections.
Today it is deemed to be the world’s largest Chinese museum consisting of more than one million items. In 1961 the Forbidden City was enlisted under special conservation by the Chinese central government and due to its extraordinary development it was also declared by UNESCO in 1987 a World Heritage Site known as “Imperial Palace of the Ming and Qing Dynasties”.