Fact 1: The Forbidden City is the largest imperial palace in the world.
Covering an impressive 720,000 square meters (7,750,000 square feet), the Forbidden City is over three times larger than the Louvre Palace in France. It took an estimated one million laborers to complete this monumental structure.
With more than 90 palace quarters and courtyards, 980 buildings, and over 8,728 rooms, this ancient fortified palace is truly awe-inspiring. (Fun fact: While some claim there are 9,999.5 rooms, survey evidence does not support this myth!)
Get ready to be amazed by the size and grandeur of the Forbidden City—there’s simply nothing like it.
Fact 2: European and Arabic-style buildings can be found within the Forbidden City.
In the western part of the Forbidden City lies a unique building with a strong Arabic style called Yude Hall (浴德堂), built during the Yuan Dynasty (1271–1368). This Arabic-style bathroom was designed by a Persian architect.
During the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644), Emperor Yongle, also known as Zhu Di, constructed the Forbidden City on the site of the Yuan Dynasty’s capital city. While numerous buildings were demolished, Yude Hall was thankfully preserved.
Another fascinating building is the European-styled Lingzhao Xuan in Yanxi Palace. As Yanxi Palace suffered several fires, the Qing court aimed to build a fire-proof structure with a steel and stone pool at the bottom, incorporating some European architectural principles. Sadly, due to a lack of funds and the revolutionary uprising at the end of the Qing Dynasty, construction abruptly halted.
Fact 3: The Forbidden City once housed 24 Chinese emperors.
Construction on the Forbidden City began in 1406 during the Ming Dynasty under the reign of Emperor Yongle. It took fourteen Ming emperors until 1644, when the Manchus ascended to power and briefly relocated the capital to Shenyang.
However, the Qing Dynasty soon moved the capital back to Beijing and reclaimed the Forbidden City. From that point until 1912, when the last emperor abdicated and the Republic of China was established, ten Qing emperors ruled from within these hallowed walls.
Fact 4: The majestic Outer Court lacks trees.
As you explore the Forbidden City, you’ll notice an absence of trees in the Outer Court.
Comprised of both a ceremonial Outer Court and a residential Inner Court, the Forbidden City features plentiful trees within the Inner Court but deliberately excludes them from the Outer Court. While there is no definite answer as to why, two theories prevail:
- The Outer Court served as the location for solemn public ceremonies, where the emperors’ “supreme godly power” and imperial dignity were displayed. Trees were deemed unfitting as they could overshadow or disrupt the majestic atmosphere.
- A lack of vegetation created clear lines of sight, ensuring there were no hiding places for potential assassins and enhancing the defensive capabilities.
Fact 5: The Forbidden City is a phenomenal masterpiece of Chinese architecture.
The Forbidden City boasts the largest collection of well-preserved medieval wooden structures in the world.
Aside from its sheer magnitude, the intricate architectural details found throughout the complex are truly astonishing. Each element reflects the unique features of traditional Chinese architecture and the rich Chinese culture. For instance:
- Every gate, except for Donghua Gate (‘East Glory’ Gate), is adorned with a nine-by-nine array of gilded door-studs, symbolizing supremacy and eternity in Chinese culture.
- Rows of auspicious animal statues, such as dragons, phoenixes, and lions, grace the roof ridges of important halls, invoking prosperity and good fortune.
Discover the wonders of Chinese architecture and immerse yourself in the rich history and cultural significance of the Forbidden City. It’s a journey you won’t want to miss!
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