I'm literally about to inundate you with pictures of The Forbidden City in this post.
It's been a minute, so I can't recall the names of all the halls and gardens we stepped into but I'll do my best. Really, tho...you aren't as interested in all that as you are with the pictures. I know.
Brief History tho: The Forbidden city served as the Chinese Imperial Palace from the Ming Dynasty to the end of the Qing Dynasty. it is located in the center of Beijing China and was home to emperors and their households as well as the ceremonial and political center of the Chinese government for nearly 500 years. It was built between 1406 and 1420, consists of 980 buildings and sits on 180 acres. It's huge and very confusing...you can easily get lost inside. It is listed by UNESCO (declared a world heritage site in 1987) as the largest collection of preserved ancient wooden structures in the world. According to our tour guide, the fact that the structure is completely made of wood left is susceptible to fires initiated by lightening.
The famous red gate (Tiananmen or The Gate of Heavenly Peace), where the huge portrait of Chairman Mao Zedong hangs...you know, the one you see on TV and in commercials and stuff, is often referred to as the front entrance to the Forbidden City.
A map of The Forbidden City would help our lives a little. Tourist attraction maps weren't readily available for some reason which had me a little bummed b/c I use those to help jog my memory. But, with the marvel of modern technology, I am able to get a map with the help of Google in no time:
Inside Tiananmen Gate there is crazy awesome architecture and more gates. On either side of you, there is housing where the employees or servants of the emperor lived.
At last, you pass over the moat and enter the Meridian Gate which leads to the Gate of Supreme Harmony.
The courtyard in front of the Gate of Supreme Harmony:
Then you pass through this Gate and approach the Hall of Supreme Harmony:
So these huge brass vessels surrounded each building and were used to hold water in case of a fire. All the buildings were made of wood and easily caught fire when lightening struck. Obviously, this was not the most effective way to douse a raging fire so architects began to add wire to the roofs to prevent such an event.
Next is the Hall of Preserving Harmony followed by the Hall of Central Harmony, respectively.
At this point, I'm really just digging Chinese architecture and they way they put the names of the Halls over the threshold of the door in big, bright beautiful colors. Currently thinking about posting my initials over the front door...........or nah?
I live for the Chinese doorway. Not one of them was boring or standard. All ornate and spectacular...fit for an emperor to pass through....and me, obviously.
This picture requires some explanation. The sloping ridges of the building roofs were decorated with a line of small statues led by a man riding a phoenix and followed by an imperial dragon. The number of small statues represents the status of the building. The Hall of Supreme Harmony has 10 statues, the only building to be permitted such a high status in imperial times.
Other notable sites are the Palace of Heavenly Purity, the Hall of Union and the Palace of Earthly Tranquility.
Then we took some time to explore the grounds of the Forbidden City...this is the part that will get you lost. 1) Because its confusing as all hell and things look very similar and 2) Because you will get so wrapped up in taking pics that your tour guide will turn a corner and leave you forever. Fortunately, I didn't get left AND I snapped some majorly awesome pics lol.
The dragon, phoenix, tortoise and kylin are the four most revered animals of ancient China. These fictitious animals (save the tortoise) were symbols of good fortune. The Kylin, the most unique of them all, had a compound appearance with dragon's head, antlers, horse's hoofs, an oxtail, wolf's forehead and scales on the body. It was believed to ward of demons and many thought it would give them a son. You'll see statues of many of these animals including the crane and deer in front Chinese buildings.
Behold! The imperial telephone:
The architecture was just so incredible. I don't really need to do much more typing lol
So....that's the Forbidden City in a nutshell. I could probably write several posts about it but I've got so many other things to share with you! Here's to a more adventures!