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
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 Water 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 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.

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 along 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) and Duanhong Bridge.

 Further Reading:
How to visit the Forbidden City
Ancient Alarm System in the Forbidden City
Interesting Animal Statues in the Forbidden City
- Last updated on Jan. 19, 2023 by Brenda Lian -
Questions & Answers on Gate of Supreme Harmony
Asked by Mrs.Carlos from IRAQ | Dec. 03, 2008 09:02Reply
why is it called the forbidden city?
i'm going to china this summer and im so excited my dad is the chinese embasitor!!!
Answers (3)
Answered by Mr.David | Dec. 04, 2008 04:09

In Chinese it is called Zi Jin Cheng. Zi is purple, means elegant and in behalf of the palace where the emperor (or God)lives. Jin should be forbidden in English, that forbid the common people to enter into the city. The last Cheng is city.

Wow, I heard it from my guide. True or not?
Answered by Ms.Anonymous from USA | Dec. 18, 2008 01:25

It was named because only top officials and the emperor could enter, everyone else was FORBIDDEN
Answered by jacky from CHINA | Mar. 28, 2019 21:34

The word “purple” comes from ancient Chinese astronomers believe that purple was the symbolic color of the North star.In ancient China,astronomers put the stars into three constellations.The purple star was located in the center of the universe,which was believed to be the center of the cosmos and the palace on the purple star was called”purple palace”for the God of Heaven to live in.Since the emperor believed that he was the “son of Heaven”,he also believed that his imperial palace was in the center of the earth,for his imperial palace built along the north-south central axis of the capital city of Beijing,and then he called his Forbidden city “Purple Forbidden city”.
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