How big is the Forbidden City?

Forbidden City Size – 720,000 Square Meters (178 acers)

Forbidden City is rectangular, 961 meters (1051 yards) long from north to south, 753 meters (823 yards) wide from east to west, encircled by a wall of over 3,400 meters (3,700 yards) long. Its construction area is 150,000 square meters (37 acres), total area is about 720,000 square meters (178 acers). The total area of the Forbidden City is 10 times larger than that of the White House, nearly 5 times larger than that of Buckingham Palace and as large as 100 football fields.

How big is Forbidden City?
How big is the Forbidden City?

There are more than 70 large and small palaces in Forbidden City and more than 9,000 rooms when it was built in 1420. According to the latest survey, there are more than 90 large and small courtyards and 980 houses with a total of 9,371 rooms in the Forbidden City. It should be noted that this is in accordance with the counting methods of the ancients. The space surrounded by four pillars can be seen as a room, not the one surrounded by four walls.

Why does someone say there are 9,999.5 rooms inside the Forbidden City?

This is related to Chinese mythology. The Jade Emperor, the God who charges the whole world, has a total of 10,000 rooms in his heavenly palace, and the ancient emperor is the son of Jade Emperor, so the rooms in Forbidden City cannot be more than those in the Jade Emperor’s palace. However, in order to show the emperors’ status, 9999.5 rooms were built, only 0.5 room less than Jade Emperor’s palace in the Heaven.

In Forbidden City, this 0.5 room is in the Pavilion of Literary Profundity. In ancient times, Chinese people preferred symmetrical house, so there were usually an odd number of rooms in houses. The Pavilion of Literary Profundity was planned to have 5 rooms. But it was used to keep books, which are afraid of fires. So the pavilion was finally built with 6 rooms, because in Chinese tradition, the number 6 denotes water, while water is anti-fire and can protect the books. Actually, the 6th room is only a tiny staircase room much smaller than the regular ones, so people called it 0.5 room.

The sightseeing area accounts for 80%, about 576,000 square meters (142 acres).

The sightseeing area is mainly along the Central Axis. It takes about 3 - 4 hour to visit. By 2025, the sightseeing area is planned to be widened to 85% and more cultural relics will be exhibited.

Palaces Not Open to the Public Yet:
Palace of Established Happiness (Jianfugong), Palace of Many Splendors (Chonghuagong), Studio of Cleansing Fragrance (Shufangzhai)

The biggest gate covers an area of 1, 300 square meters (1,555 square yards).

Gate of Supreme Harmony is the largest palace gate in the Forbidden City covering 1,300 square meters. It is the place where the emperors in Ming Dynasty (1368 - 1644 AD) held morning court and deal with the state affairs with ministers. The Gate was only for the emperor to enter and exit. The civil and military officers entered the hall from the side door on the east and west.

The biggest palace is 2, 377 square meters (2,843 square yards).

The Hall of Supreme Harmony, commonly known as the Jinluandian or Taihedian, was the place where the emperors held the ceremonies such as the enthronement ceremonies and their wedding ceremonies. In addition, the Emperors accepted the civil and military officials’ greetings here every year on their birthdays, New Year’s Day and Winter Solstice. The building area is 2, 377 square meters with a height of 35.05 meters (38 yards) together with the base.

- Last updated on Apr. 08, 2021 -
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