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Forbidden City (Palace Museum)

 Notice: The Forbidden City is closed from August 22nd to September 3rd, 2015.
See details about  Travel Restrictions Due to the Sep. 3rd Military Parade.
Lying at the city center and called Gu Gong in Chinese, it was the imperial palace for twenty-four emperors during the Ming and Qing dynasties. It was first built throughout 14 years during the reign of Emperor Chengzu  in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). Ancient Chinese Astronomers believed that the Purple Star (Polaris) was in the center of heaven and the Heavenly Emperor lived in the Purple Palace. The Palace for the emperor on earth was so called the Purple City. It was forbidden to enter without special permission of the empeor. Hence its name 'The Purple Forbidden City', usually 'The Forbidden City'.

Now known as the Palace Museum, it is to the north of Tiananmen Square. Rectangular in shape, it is the world's largest palace complex and covers 74 hectares. Surrounded by a 52-meter-wide moat and a 10-meter-high wall are more than 8,700 rooms. The wall has a gate on each side. Opposite the Tiananmen Gate, to the north is the Gate of Divine Might (Shenwumen). The distance between these two gates is 960 meters, while the distance between the east and west gates is 750 meters. There are unique and delicately structured towers on each of the four corners of the curtain wall. These afford views over both the palace and the city outside.
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Architectural Characteristics

It is divided into two parts. The southern section, or the Outer Court was where the emperor exercised his supreme power over the nation. The northern section, or the Inner Court was where he lived with his royal family. Until 1924 when the last emperor of China was driven from the Inner Court, fourteen emperors of the Ming dynasty and ten emperors of the Qing dynasty had reigned here. Having been the imperial palace for some five centuries, it houses numerous rare treasures and curiosities. Listed by UNESCO as a World Cultural Heritage Site in 1987, the Palace Museum is now one of the most popular tourist attractions world-wide.
Construction of the palace complex began in 1407, the 5th year of the Yongle reign of the third emperor (Emperor Chengzu, Zhu Di) of the Ming dynasty. It was completed fourteen years later in 1420, and then the capital city was moved from Nanjing to Beijing the next year. It was said that a million workers including one hundred thousand artisans were driven into the  long-term hard labor. Stone needed was quarried from Fangshan District. It was said a well was dug every fifty meters along the road in order to pour water onto the road in winter to slide huge stones on ice into the city. Huge amounts of timber and other materials were freighted from faraway provinces.

Ancient Chinese people displayed their very considerable skills in building it. Take the grand red city wall for example. It has an 8.6 meters wide base reducing to 6.66 meters wide at the top. The angular shape of the wall totally frustrates attempts to climb it. The bricks were made from white lime and glutinous rice while the cement is made from glutinous rice and egg whites. These incredible materials make the wall extraordinarily strong.

Since yellow is the symbol of the royal family, it is the dominant color in it. Roofs are built with yellow glazed tiles; decorations in the palace are painted yellow; even the bricks on the ground are made yellow by a special process. However, there is one exception. Wenyuange, the royal library, has a black roof. The reason is that it was believed black represented water then and could extinguish fire.

Nowadays, it is open to tourists from home and abroad. Splendid painted decoration on these royal architectural wonders, the grand and deluxe halls, with their surprisingly magnificent treasures will certainly satisfy 'modern civilians'.
 Special Tips:
 New measures have been taken since June 13th, 2015, to control the number of visitors. Ticketing will be stopped once the number of visitors reaches 80,000.

Second, concessionary tickets are sold from November 1 to next March 31 (excluding New Year’s Day (January 1) and Chinese New year Holiday). To be precise, it costs CNY 20 to visit the museum during above-mentioned period. However, visitors need to buy the concessionary tickets from Gugong.228.com.cn in advance. And they are still required to buy tickets to visit the Treasure Gallery and Gallery of the Clock and Watch.

In addition, tour guides have been not allowed to use megaphones inside the museum since April 1, 2015. Therefore, other visitors are not disturbed during their visits.

 2015 real-name annual tickets have been put on sale since October, 2014. Visitors can buy the tickets from gugong.228.com.cn with their valid ID documents. Foreign visitors who don't understand Chinese can't buy the tickets online because Chinese version of the website is only provided.  Second-generation ID cards are required for Chinese visitors. Soldiers, Children, foreigners and other special visitors who don’t have above-mentioned ID documents can use their army identity cards, ID numbers on their household registration books or passports. More importantly, each valid ID document can be used only once.

In addition, Chinese visitors need to swipe second-generation ID cards to enter the museum. Soldiers, children, foreigners and other special visitors must go through the special channel to have their valid documents checked.

 The ticket office at the Gate of Divine Might (north gate) is closed. It carries out unidirectional itinerary. Visitors can only enter through the Meridian Gate (south gate) and leave from the Gate of Divine Might.

 In the Olympic Tower in the Beijing Olympic Park, there launches a special exhibition hall displaying rare historical relics from the Forbidden City in the themes of the Chinese Five Elements.

Visitors are able to appreciate 202 pieces of rare gold and silver objects of the Qing Dynasty in 2015. Furniture, jade articles, bronzes and porcelains are exhibited in the coming four years. In addition, the exhibition hall is likely to open in the evening by the end of 2015 or the beginning of 2016. A digital cinema is also opened inside the tower. Visitors can watch videos to learn more about the Forbidden City.

Ticket prices: CNY 200 for climbing Olympic Tower and visiting the exhibition hall, and CNY 70 for the exhibition hall only.

By Bus:
Take bus 101, 103, 109, 124, 58, 685,  and get off at Gugong Station.
Take bus 1, 52, 99, and get off at Tiananmen Xi or Tiananmen Dong Station, walk north through the Tiananmen Tower (Gate of Heavenly Peace), and then you'll find the Meridian Gate (south gate).
Take bus 17, 48, 59, 66, Te 4, Te 7, and get off at Qianmen, Qianmen Xi, or Qianmen Dong Station, and walk north through Tiananmen Square and you'll find it in front of you.

By Subway:
Subway Line 1: get off at Tiananmen West or Tiananmen East Station, walk north through the Tiananmen Tower (Gate of Heavenly Peace), and then you'll find the Meridian Gate (south gate) .
Subway Line 2: get off at Qianmen Station and walk north through the Tiananmen Tower.
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Admission Fee: April to October: CNY 60
November to the next March: CNY 40
CNY 10 for the Treasure Gallery; CNY 10 for the Clock and Watch Gallery

 Annual ticket: CNY 300 for adults, CNY 150 for the elderly, students and children.
It allows the visitor to visit the museum 10 times within a year. However, Treasure Gallery, Clock and Watch Gallery and other special exhibitions are excluded. Also it can't be used during the National Day Holiday (Oct. 1 to 7).
Opening Hours:

April to October: 8:30 - 17:00 ; last ticket is available at 16:00 and last entry is at 16:10.
November to the next March: 8:30 - 16:30 ; last ticket is available at 15:30 and last entry is at 15:40.

 It is closed on Mondays, except the statutory holidays and the summer vacation from Jul. 1 to Aug. 31.

Recommended Time for a Visit: 3-4 hours