Home / Destinations / Beijing / Attractions / Forbidden City / Gate of Supreme Harmony

Gate of Supreme Harmony (Taihemen)

Our Tour Group in front of Gate of Supreme Harmony
Our Tour Group in front of 
Gate of Supreme Harmony
 Photos
Behind the Meridian Gate, one can see five bridges with a square beyond. Occupying the centre of the northern side of this square is the Gate of Supreme Harmony (Taihemen).

The Inner Golden River flows beneath the bridges which are consequently referred to as the Inner Golden River Bridges. The central bridge was used exclusively by the emperor. The two flanking it were for use by members of the royal family. The two outer bridges were for court officials. The bridges have marble balustrades richly carved with dragon and phoenix motifs. With the ever present threat of fire damage to the palace buildings, the river served as a water reservoir as well as being a decorative feature.

The large square beyond the river covers ten thousand square meters. It is treeless as, in Imperial China, the emperor was regarded as the Son of Heaven. Born to rule the empire, his was the loftiest position no one and nothing could appear higher. The Hall of Supreme Harmony, is the highest building in the Forbidden City and not even trees could overshadow it. There are many other instances of this particular arrangement throughout the City.

You will be astonished to learn that the foundations of the palace were laid in a very special way - seven layers lengthways and eight layers crosswise, totalling fifteen layers in all. This precaution was intended to prevent assassins tunnelling into the palace. Paving bricks were specially made so as to make a pleasing sound when walked upon. The rooms on each side are said to have served as warehouses for storing such items as fur, porcelain, silver, tea, silk, satin and clothes.
Gate of Supreme Harmony
Gate of Supreme Harmony
Bronze Lion
Bronze Lion by the Gate of Supreme Harmony
Gate of Supreme Harmony, north of the square, is the main gate of the Outer Court and which is fairly grand. It is guarded by two bronze lions. These symbolise imperial power. The lion on the east side is male. Its right front paw is placed on a globe denoting that imperial power extended world-wide. The lioness on the west side has its left front paw on a lion cub. This denotes a thriving and prosperous imperial family.

It is important as it was here that the emperors' wedding ceremonies were usually held. Here to, in the October of the first year under Shunzhi reign of the Qing dynasty, Emperor Shunzhi announced an Act of Grace.
 

 Next:
Go through the gate, walk further north across the Taihedian Square, and then see the three grand halls of the Outer Court:
Hall of Supreme Harmony (Taihedian)
Hall of Central Harmony (Zhonghedian)
Hall of Preserved Harmony (Baohedian)

If your schedule is not tight, some side buildings are also worth a visit before starting the tour a long the central axis. To the east of the Taihemen Square is the Hall of Literary Glory (Wenhuadian), while to the west is the Hall of Martial Valor (Wuyingdian).

 Further Reading: Virtual Guide of Forbidden City