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Beijing Forbidden City
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Location: Beijing City Center Hours: April 16-Oct 15 (08:30-17:00) / Oct 16-April 15 (08:30-16:30) Entry fee: 60RMB Time required: 2 hours

Forbidden City is located in the center of Beijing, it was the imperial palace of the Ming and Qing dynasties.
From 1406 (the fourth year of Yongle's reign of Ming Emperor) to 1420 (the eighteenth year of Yongle's reign), the construction of the Forbidden City lasted 14 years.
In 1925, Forbidden City started to open to the public as the Palace Museum.
In 1987, the Forbidden City was placed on the World Cultural Heritage liste by UNESCO.
In 1992, experts of the World Travel Wonders commented the Forbidden City is the largest, best preserved place complex remaining in the world.
The Forbidden City is encircled by a 52-meter wide moat and a 10-meter high wall, covers an area of 72 hectares, according the the calculation which made in 1973, Forbidden City has 90 courtyards, 980 buildings and 8,704 room-units.
The four city gates of the Forbidden City are Meridian Gate, Gate of Divine Pride, Gate of East Flowery and the Gate of West Flowery, while Meridian Gate is the gront gate. The architecture of the Meridian Gate was developed from the Han Dynasty design, it is concave in shape, its five passages had different usage respectively, the central passage was reserved for emperors only. There are rostrum in the middle of the mound and 13 rooms on each side of east and west wings of the mound. The ceremonies of accepting prisoners of war took place here, in the Ming Dynasty, emperors also punished culpable high officials with sticks here.
The Forbidden City has court area and residential area, along the central route, the main buildings of the court area are Inner Golden Water Bridges, Gate of Supreme Harmony and Square, the Hall of Supreme Harmony, the Hall of Complete Harmony, the Hall of Preserving Harmony. 
The Hall of Supreme Harmony is the most grand building, and only the most grand ceremonies were held here during the Ming and Qing Dynasties, such as the New Year, the emperor's enthronement and wedding, the dispatch of generals to battles, and the declaration of successful candidates of the imperial examinations. 
These very special ornaments outside of the Hall of Supreme Harmony are Sundial, Jialiang, Bronze Tortoise and Crane, as well as very big water vats. Sundial was a kind of timepiece in ancient China, Jialiang was a measuring device, and Bronze Tortoise and Crane symbol of longevity. You will see many water vats in the Forbidden City, there were 308 big and small water vats in the Qing Dynasty, they are called Peace Water Wats, and were used for storing water in case of fire.
Inside of the Hall of Supreme Harmony, a precious emperor's throne is on the upraised platform, other display on the platform are incense burners; peace elephants-symbolize the stability of society and political power; Lu Duan-according to an ancient legend, it is an immortal animal which could walk 18 thousand Li each day and knows many foreign languages; celestial cranes-symbolize everlasting political power. 
The Hall of Complete Harmony was the place for emperors took a break before getting to the Hall of Supreme Harmony to accept respects, the Ming and Qing emperors also examed the sacrificial offerings and seeds here before going to the Altar of Earth (or the Altar of Land and Grain) and the Altar of God of Agriculture.
The function of the Hall of Preserving Harmony was different in the Ming and Qing Dynasties. The the Ming Dynasty, the emperors changed into their ceremonial garments here for grand ceremonies, and held banquets for officials at the end of every year. In the Qing Dynasty, the emperors held banquet on every Lanterns Festival, and held palace examinations in the Hall of Preserving Harmony.
Behind of the Hall of Preserving Harmony, it is the front gate of the residential area-the Gate of Heavenly Purity, emperors once gave audience to government officials at the Gate of Heavenly Purity.
At the residential area, there are three main palaces along the central route, the Hall of Heavenly Purity, the Hall of Union, the Palace of Earthly Tranquility, and hundreds of smaller palaces on both east and west sides. 
The Hall of Heavenly Purity had been the residence of the emperors, but started from the Qing Emperor Yongzheng, the Hall of Heavenly Purity became the place for the emperors gave audience to ranking officials, while emperors lived at the Hall of Mental Cultivation.
When the birthday of the empresses, they accepted greetings at the Hall of Union. Also, empresses would check the tools for picking mulberry leaves one day before the annual Raising Silkworm Ceremony which held at the Alter of the Silkworm (the present site of Beihai kindergarten).
The Palace of Earthly Tranquility was rebuilt in the years of Qing Emperor Shunzhi according to the customs of Manchu, then the east side was the emperor's wedding chamber, the Qing emperors Shunzhi, Kangxi, Tongzhi, Guangxu and Xuantong held their wedding ceremonies in the Palace of Earthly Tranquility. The west side turned into a shrine of the Saman religion.
The last sight at the central route is the Imperial Garden, it is a small but gorgeous garden, pavillions, big rockery, ancient coiling cypresses are all available.
The Gate of Military Prowess (or the Gate of Divine Pride) is the north gate (back door) of the Forbidden City. Walk through this gate, you will see the beautiful watchtowers at turnings of the moat, the Forbidden City watchtowers attract photographers from all over the world, especially for brilliant Spring sight or when the watchtowers covered by snow.