Forbidden City (Palace Museum)
2-Day Private Beijing Tour from $199
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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. The distance between the south Meridian Gate (Wumen) and the north Gate of Divine Prowess (Shenwumen) is 961 meters (1,051 yards), while the distance between the east and west gates is 753 meters (823 yards). 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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The Forbidden City 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, Forbidden City 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 the Forbidden City. 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, Forbidden City 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'.
Touring Route and Time
The museum carries out a south-to-north unidirectional itinerary. Visitors can only enter through the Meridian Gate (Wumen) and leave from the Gate of Divine Prowess (Shenwumen) or East Prosperity Gate (Donghuamen). Three to four hours is enough for touring the central axis; if you have interest in exploring more about the imperial palace, more time need to be spent in the west and east wings.
How to get to the Forbidden City
Entry is allowed only through the Meridian Gate, the south gate of the museum.
a. Take Subway Line 1, get off at Tiananmen East Station (Exit A) or Tiananmen West Station (Exit B), find the Tiananmen Tower, and then walk north to the Meridian Gate;
b. Take Subway Line 2, get off at Qianmen Station (Exit A), walk north through the Tiananmen Square, pass the Tiananmen Tower, and then find the Meridian Gate further north.
a. Take Bus 1, 2, 52, 59, 82, 120, Sightseeing Bus Line 2 or Tourist Bus Line 2, and get off at Tiananmen East Station;
b. Take Bus 1, 5, 52, Sightseeing Bus Line 1, Sightseeing Bus Line 2 or Tourist Line 2, and get off at Tiananmen West Station.
See more: How to Get from Beijing South Railway Station to Forbidden City & Tiananmen Square
How to leave from the Forbidden City
Exit is allowed only through the Gate of Divine Prowess in the north of the museum, and the East Prosperity Gate.
1. Leaving from the Gate of Divine Prowess:
a. Take Bus 58, 101, 103, 109, 124, 128, Sightseeing Bus Line 1, Sightseeing Bus Line 2 or Sightseeing Bus Line 3 at Gugong (Forbidden City) Station.
b. Take Bus 58, 111, 124 or Sightseeing Bus Line 3 at Jingshan East Gate Station.
2. Leaving from the East Prosperity Gate:
a. Take Bus 2 or 82 at Donghuamen Station.
b. Take Sightseeing Line 2 at Gugong East Gate Station.
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|Entrance Ticket||April to October: CNY 60 |
November to March: CNY 40
|Treasure Gallery||CNY 10 (in Palace of Tranquil Longevity, including the Opera Museum and Stone Drum Museum)|
|Clock and Watch Gallery||CNY 10 (in Hall for Ancestry Worship)|
1. Free for children under 1.2 meters (3.9 feet), each accompanied by an adult.
2. For minors between 6 and 18 years old, the admission ticket price is CNY 20 and the ticket for Treasure Gallery and Clock and Watch Gallery each is CNY 5.
3. Seniors elder than 60 can enjoy half price by showing a valid ID or passport.
4. The Annual Ticket (CNY 300 for 10 entries a year) is only applied to Chinese citizens.
How to Buy Tickets of Forbidden City
The museum allows 80,000 visitors a day. All visitors need to buy ticket online or by scanning the official QR code on site.
However English service is not ready yet on the official booking website, so foreigners need to buy tickets through travel agencies or Chinese friends. If it seems difficult, a ticket window is opened near the Meridian Gate for special needs and you may get a ticket from there. It is important to get there and buy tickets as early as possible, especially during holidays.
Real-name policy has been carried out in ticketing. ID cards of Chinese visitors and passports of foreigners need to be shown when buying tickets. Chinese need to swipe their ID cards at the entrance, while foreigners should go through the special channel(s) to have their passports checked.
|Months||Opening Hours||Ticketing Time||Entry Time|
|April to October||8:30-17:00||8:30-16:00|| |
|November to March||8:30-16:30||8:30-15:30||8:30-15:40|
It is closed on Mondays, except the Chinese statutory holidays.
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My children are Deaf, but they do not have ID cards. Do I buy adult tickets for them?
2. The children under 6 years old or height lower than 1.2m don't need tickets. The children between 6 to 18 can book student tickets at the price of CNY20 according to passports.
3. You need to book tickets online in advance.
I heard there is a hill near Tiananmen where you can claim to take a photo of the Forbidden city in bird eye view. Could you please advise where is the hill located and how to get there. Thank you.