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The Shenyang Imperial Palace, located at No. 171, Shenyang Road, Shenhe District in Shenyang City, is the only existing royal palace in China outside of the Forbidden City in Beijing. The main structure was built in 1625 when Nurhachi was in power. It was finished in 1636 by his son Abahai (Huangtaiji). Nurhachi and Abahai were both founding emperors of the Qing Dynasty.

Covering an area of more than 60,000 square meters (about 71,760 square yards), the Shenyang Imperial Palace is one twelfth the size of the Forbidden City in Beijing. It consists of more than 300 rooms, formed around 20 courtyards.

It can be divided into three sections-the eastern section, the middle section and the western section. Each section boasts of unique characteristics.

The eastern section contains the very impressive Hall of Great Affairs (Da Zheng Dian). Here emperors ascended the throne, enacted imperial edicts, and welcomed victorious generals and soldiers. A group of pavilions, known as the Ten Kings Pavilion, stand to its east and west. They formerly served as the place where emperors and leaders from the eight banners (Ba Qi) settled national affairs. This architectural style of Shenyang Imperial Palace is unique. The style of the buildings, which displays an amalgamation of Han, Manchu and Mongolian cultures, all originated from the shape of a nomadic tent. The eastern section of the palace is representative of the whole palace.

The middle section starts from the Da Qing Gate, with Chong Zheng Dian (Jin Luan Dian), the Phoenix Tower and Qingning Palace arranged on a central axis from south to north. Chong Zheng Dian is the place where Abahai held court. It is the most important building in the Shenyang Imperial Palace. The Phoenix Tower, a three-storied building, was the highest structure in the whole city at that time. Qingning Palace was the bedchamber for Abahai and his concubines.

The western section was constructed by order of Emperor Qianlong (1711-1799). Its main structure is the Wen Su Pavilion. In front of this, there are the Opera Stage and Jiayin Hall and behind it is the Yang Xi Room. The Wen Su Pavilion, which contains the Complete Collection of Four Treasures, has a black roof because black was considered to represent water which could be used to extinguish a fire to protect the priceless books contained inside.

The Shenyang Imperial Palace houses many ancient cultural relics, such as Nurhachi's sword and Abahai's broadsword. There are also many artworks displayed here, such as paintings, calligraphy, pottery, sculptures and lacquer ware.

Besides the Forbidden City in Beijing, the Shenyang Imperial Palace is the only other existing palace complex in China. Within its walls much is revealed about the early Qing Dynasty. It was listed by UNESCO as a World Cultural Heritage Site in 2004 as an extension of the Forbidden City and is now the most popular and renowned tourist attraction in Shenyang.

Admission Fee: CNY 60
Opening Hours: 08:30 to 17:30 (April 15 to October 15, ticket sales closed at 16:45)
09:00 to 16:30 (October 16 to April 14, ticket sales closed at 15:45)
Recommended Time for a Visit: One hour
Bus Route: Take bus no.17, 118, 132, 140, 213, 222, 228, 257, 276, 287, 290, 292, 294 and 296 to get off at Gugong Station.