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Forbidden City must Visit

Three Grand Halls

What is the most important building structure in the Forbidden City? Probably the three grand halls named Hall of Supreme Harmony, Hall of Central Harmony and Hall of Preserving Harmony should be, for they are the soul of the whole city, located in the center. Walking through the entrance Meridian Gate and the Gate of Supreme Harmony, you will enter the real place where the past Chinese emperors once lived and dealt with political affairs. The most important building that swarms into your eyes is the Hall of Supreme Harmony, the highest and largest building in the whole city, where large ceremonies were once been held including the enthronement of each emperor. In China, it is also called Gold Hall. Behind it is the Hall of Central Harmony, which is smaller and once served as the lounge for the emperor ready to hold the ceremony or be enthroned inside the Hall of Supreme Harmony. Behind this hall is the Hall of Preserving Harmony where students past various examinations gathered to be examined by the emperor himself in the Qing Dynasty.

Three Palaces of the Inner Court

Keep walking forward from the Hall of Preserving Harmony and through the Gate of Heavenly Purity, and you will enter the inner court. The inner court was the family residence of the emperor and was not open to the officials or civilians of that time. The three most important palaces are located in the inner court, named Palace of Heavenly Purity, Hall of Union and Palace of Earthly Tranquility.

Compared to the three grand halls, the three palaces look pale and even smaller and shorter. According to Chinese tradition, the inner court should be more of yin and the outer court where three grand halls stand should be more of yang. Females belong to yin and males belong to yang. In the past males were regarded more important than females, and that’s why buildings of the inner court look less magnificent than those of the outer court. But stories happened in these court sound even more attractive.

Emperor Jiajing of the Ming Dynasty was nearly strangled to death on his bed at night by a few palace maids in the Palace of Heavenly, and the third emperor Yongzheng of the Qing Dynasty has been surrounded by rumors that he usurped the throne from one of his brothers and the source originated in the Palace of Heavenly Purity. The Hall of Union looks much smaller than the Palace of Heavenly Purity but was the sleeping palace of the empresses of the Ming Dynasty. In the reign of Emperor Qianlong, it was changed to a storehouse where 25 imperial jade seals have been stored so far. The Palace of Earthly Tranquility is at the back of the Hall of Union and was the living room of the empresses of the Ming Dynasty but was altered to the wedding room of the married emperor and his wife and the place of sacrifice in the Qing Dynasty. I guess you must want to have a look at them!

Six West Palaces

The six west palaces are located west of the three palaces of the inner court and neighbors them. As we all know, an emperor usually has multiple wives, and these palaces are where the concubines of the emperor once lived. Many women living here had only met the emperor once or twice and died lonely after then, and some outstanding ones such as the notorious empress Cixi won the love and care of the emperor and became quite famous later. Empress Dowager Cixi once lived in the Palace of Gathered Elegance before she won the love of the emperor, and she squandered large sums of silver ingots to renovate this palace because she once lived there.

Houses of Treasures

In addition to all these above places, two more places in the Forbidden City are also worth your trip. They are the House of Jewelries and the House of Clocks, with each house charging 10 RMB, which is not included in your admission ticket to the Forbidden City. The House of Jewelries is located in the Hall of Great Supremacy and this house looks not that interesting if you are not an expert of jewelries or antiques. The House of Clocks is located in the Hall of Ancestral Worship. Clocks exhibited in the hall were the collections of the past emperors and some of them were made in Britain, France and Switzerland. Indeed, they are good-looking and show the unbeatable clock-making art of the past times. And of course, they are all quite valuable!