The city in the center of a city, a palace as big as a town and a place prohibited for the simple population. This is the forbidden city in the center of Beijing, the palace of the Chinese emperor and a UNESCO world cultural heritage.
The actual Chinese name of the palace is 故宫, pinyin: Gùgōng, lit. ‘Former Palace’, but it is often called and therefore very known as 紫禁城, pinyin: Zǐjìnchéng, lit. ‘Purple Forbidden City’, which is the origin of its name in English and 'purple' because it's one of the main colors in the palace.
It was built in 1406 by Yongle, the third emperor of the Ming-Dynasty and was already finished in 1420. A reason why it went so fast and took just 14 years was the number of slaves and artisans he used. Until 1644 the palace remained to be the main seat of the Ming Dynasty, but that changed, when the Qing Dynasty took over and reigned until 1860. After, the British-French troops occupied the forbidden city until the second opium war was finished. 1912 the emperor abdicated and China was a republic. The emperor and his family still lived in the palace until 1924, when the doors were opened and the forbidden city was made public and not forbidden anymore.
The construction is placed exactly in the center of the city, while Beijing is built around it. Streets and even the metro move in circles around the forbidden city. In front of the palace is the Tiananmen Square, Chinese: 天安门广场, which lit. means ‘the gate of heavenly peace’ square. Around this area, you can also find the most visited places in Beijing, for example, the mausoleum from Mao Zedung, the Monument to the People’s Heroes and the National Museum of China.
The forbidden city and the Palace Museum, are one of the most seen tourist attractions in Beijing and belong to the UNESCO world cultural heritage. If you visit Beijing it is a must see on your list to do.
By Elena Kasper