Virtual Guide of Forbidden City
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Meridian Gate - Gate of Divine Prowess (one hour)
(Meridian Gate → Inner Golden water Bridge → Gate of Harmony, Gate of Prosperous Harmony → Hall of Literary Glory → Hall of Martial Valor → Gate of Supreme Harmony → Pavilion of Embodying Benevolence, Hall of Spreading Righteousness → Hall of Supreme Harmony → Hall of Central Harmony → Hall of Preserved Barmony → Gate of Heavenly purity – Palace of Heavenly Purity → Hall of Celestial and terrestrial Union → Palace of Earthly Tranquility → Imperial Garden → Gate of Divine Prowess)
Tour Along the Central Axis
This is the most ideal visiting itinerary to tour it basically, which assemble the most magnificent imperial buildings. Now start your tour from Meridian Gate. It is also named Five-Phoenix Tower, for it looks like a phoenix with five pavilion buildings up there. It's the main gate and south gate of the imperial city. Inside the Meridian Gate, there appear the Inner Golden Water Bridges. Water flows beneath these white marble bridges. The Golden Water River of this section is very gorgeous, well decorated. The riverbed and the bank were paved with white stones. Decorative marble columns and banisters were established along the river. Standing on the bridges, one can see a grand structure called Gate of Supreme Harmony, which is the most impressive gate with two bronze lions guarding the front. On the square between the Gate of Supreme Harmony and Meridian Gate, imperial honor guards paraded before grand ceremonies.
The three main halls of the outer court, Hall of Supreme Harmony, Hall of Central Harmony and Hall of Preserved Harmony form a line inside the gate. These halls are all situated on three-tier marble terraces, with ornate marble balustrades. A stone ramp carved with coiled dragons and clouds is located between the steps leading up to each hall. The ramp of Hall of Preserved Harmony is the largest.
The Hall of Supreme Harmony comes first and is the grandest. It is the place where the emperor ascended his throne and granted audience to visiting officials and other important events were celebrated. The hall is flanked by the Hall of Literary Glory and Hall of Martial Velour. The former, on the right side, used to be the study of the crown princes, where banquets and some rites were held. On its north lies Pavilion of Literary Source, the imperial library where the world largest encyclopedia Sikuquanshu (Complete Library of the Four Treasures of Knowledge) was housed. The latter, on the left side, is the imperial press where many books were compiled and published and where Li Zicheng, leader of the famous peasant revolt, ascended his throne after overthrowing the Ming Dynasty. The nearby South Fragrance Hall is where portraits of emperors of dynasties are kept.
Then, visitors will see the Gate of Heavenly Purity, which is the boundary of the Outer Court and the Inner Court. Inside the gate is the residence of the royal family. In the Qing Dynasty, Emperor Kangxi often heard reports from high officials and issued his orders under the gate. The Inner Court is divided into three parts. The three halls on the center axis are the main structures and they are smaller in size than the three halls in the Outer Court, although they look the same in style. Six Western Palaces and Six Eastern Palaces are also important complexes for the concubines to reside.
The first hall inside the gate is Palace of Heavenly Purity, which was originally the bedroom and office of emperors. They also gave banquets here. Behind it is a smaller hall named Hall of Celestial and Terrestrial Union, where empresses received greetings from other concubines. It was used to store the emperor and empress's imperial seals. The third hall on the central axis is the Palace of Earthly Tranquility, which was the empress' bedroom.
Just behind the garden is Gate of Divine Prowess, the rear (North) gate. On the gate there was a drum and a bell. The bell used to toll 108 times to announce a new day while the drum rataplaned the time in the night. If you do not want to finish your tour shortly, continue to see more buildings on west and east wings of the palace back from the Imperial Garden.
Palace for Gathering Elegance – The Office of Grand Council of State (half an hour)
(Palace for Gathering Elegance → Tihe Hall → Palace of Queen Consort → Palace of Universal Happiness → Palace of Eternal Spring → Tiyuan Hall → Hall of Supreme Pole → Palace of Eternal Longevity → Tishun Hall → Hall of Mental Cultivation → The Office of Grand Council of State)
Tour Along the Western Route
Outer West Wing:
Palace of Compassion and Tranquility → Palace of Longevity and Good Health
After visiting the Hall of Mental Cultivation, tourists can start to tour along the outer west wing. The outer west route mainly consists of the Palace of Compassion and Tranquility, the Palace of Longevity and Good Health, the Palace of Longevity and Peace, the Belvedere of Raining Flowers, the Hall of Rightness, the Garden of Building Happiness, and the Hall of Braveness and Splendor. The first two palaces are opened, while the rest ones remain mysterious. The Palace of Longevity and Good Health is located to the northwest of the Palace of Compassion and Tranquility. Both are former residences of empress dowagers, like Empress Dowager Xiaozhuang and Empress Dowager Cixi.
Palace of Gathering Essence – Hall for Ancestry Worship (half an hour)
(Palace of Gathering Essence → Palace of Great Brilliance → Palace of Celestial Favor → Palace of Eternal Harmony → Palace of Great Benevolence → Palace of Lasting Happiness → Palace of Abstinence - Hall for Ancestry Worship)
Tour Along the Eastern Route
The southeast side-door of the Imperial Garden is the start to visit the right side of the Inner Court, viz. east side. This is the Six Eastern Palaces area, containing the Hall for Ancestry Worship, Palace of Abstinence where emperors practiced abstinence a few days before going to offer sacrifices at the Temple of Heaven or the Temple of Earth, and Six Eastern Palaces which consists of Palace of Great Benevolence, Palace of Celestial Favor, Palace of Eternal Harmony, Palace of Great Brilliance, Palace of Purity and Palace of Lasting Happiness.
Outer East Wing:
Nine Dragon Screen – Well of Concubine Zhen (one hour)
(Nice Dragon Screen → Gate of Tranquil Longevity → Hall of Imperial Supremacy → Palace of Tranquil Longevity → Qianlong Garden → Pavilion of Pleasant Sounds → Hall for Viewing Opera → Hall of Temper Cultivation → Hall of Joyful Longevity → Belvedere of Well-Nourished Harmony → Well of Concubine Zhen)
Can you find the way? And are you impressed by the grandness and magnificence of the world's largest palace structure?Choose proper itinerary in terms of your timetable.With the help of Forbidden City map, you will have an easier tour. Now start your tour in it from Meridian Gate!