Corner Towers of the Forbidden City (Jiaolou)
Layout: Two Overlying “十” in the Shape of a Curved Ruler
The white base of Corner Tower is in Buddhist-style, surrounded by white stone railings. On it, is a red square pavilion, each side measuring 8.73m (9.55 yd) and attached an outward room in the middle, forming a layout of two overlying “十”.
Three Layers of Up-curling Roofs
Each Corner Tower has a three-layer up-curling roof with 9 beams, 18 posts and 72 ridges. The roof is covered with yellow glazed tiles and decorated with auspicious animal statues. Ancient Chinese builders superimposed and inlaid basic geometric shaped woods, like triangles, ladders and cubes to each other to build the complex, stable, exquisite and different style roofs for these corner towers, using no nails at all. It can be say that these Corner Towers represents the high architectural technique of ancient China.
Best Site and Time to Shoot the Corner Towers
The northeast and northwest corner towers are popular among photographers. When the weather is fine, the towers are reflected on the nearby moat, so many people choose to shoot them on the lawn outside the moat. It is a bit troublesome to shoot the southeast and the southwest corner towers, because it demands photographers to go inside to Working People's Cultural Palace and Zhongshan Park.
Design Inspiration from a Grasshopper Cage
Zhudi, Emperor Yongle of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), ordered the chief project commander to build four fine corner towers in four corners of the Forbidden City, each with 9 beams, 18 posts and 72 ridges. The chief project commander gathered all the formans and carpenters together and gave them three months to fulfill the mission. This was really a bitter pill to swallow as nobody had ever seen such complicated yet delicate corner tower. Deep in worry, a carpenter met an old man selling grasshoppers and bought a grasshopper cage for relief. To his surprise, the delicate grasshopper cage with layer upon layer had just 9 beams, 18 posts and 72 ridges. Thereafter the design was brought out. It is said that the old man was the “father of the builders”, Luban.
How to visit the Forbidden City