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You are here: Home >> Beijing Attractions >> Forbidden City

Forbidden City

The Forbidden City, also known as the Imperial Palace or the Palace Museum(IIts Chinese name is Zijincheng or Gugong), is the largest and best preserved collection of ancient buildings in China. The entrance to the Palace is through Tian'anmen gate. Once you reach Wumen (Meridian Gate) you enter the heart of the Complex and this is the place to buy an entrance ticket and start the visit.

Walking From Tian'anmen Gate To visit Forbidden City   Meridian Gate, Forbidden City

After passing through the Meridian gate, there is a huge Palace courtyard. Hereafter, the complex is divided into two sections: the Inner Court or the living quarters, and the working area also known as the Outer Court. The Palace courtyard contains the "stream of golden water" and five bridges, all decorated with carved with torches, traditional symbols of masculinity. The Outer court is guarded by a row of lions protecting the Gate of Supreme Harmony.

The Outer Court starts at the Hall of Supreme Harmony, the greatest and largest of all the halls in the complex. This was the most important building for the emperor and the place where all official business was done. Ceremonies such as the enthronement of the Crown Prince, the Emperor's birthday, imperial marriage ceremonies, and the initiation of military expeditions all took place here. The Emperor would arrive at the Hall of Supreme Harmony amidst ceremonial music, drum-beating and firecrackers. He would then take his place on the throne and listen to a reading of congratulatory messages from his palace courtiers. Civil and military officials would all kneel before him proclaiming, "Long Live Your Majesty." The building itself is decorated with thousands of dragons, the traditional symbol of the Emperor's power.

Forbidden City   Inner courter, Business Palace, Forbidden City

The Midway Hall of Harmony is a smaller hall where the emperor would prepare for the ceremonies to be held in the Hall of Supreme Harmony. The Midway hall was also used by the Emperor to examine agricultural instruments and discuss techniques. This was an important duty as the responsibility for a poor harvest fell largely on his shoulders.

The Inner Court begins at the Hall of Celestial Purity. The inner court was where the emperor, his concubinesand Eunuchs lived. Approximately half of the six thousand people at the Imperial court were Eunuchs. Eunuchs were seen to improve the emperors position and ensured that his children were just that, HIS own! There were similar numbers of Concubines in the Palace. In this way, any aspiring courtiers or women who fancied they may rise up the social ladder a little were taken care of! The Emperor was definitely "the boss".

The Gate of Celestial Purity was where the emperor attended to state affairs. The Emperors: Kangxi, Yongzheng and Qianlong attended to business here on a daily basis. After these three emperors died, standards fell and by the time the Qing dynasty came to power in 1644, corruption was rife.

During the Ming Dynasty and the early Qing Dynasty, the emperors lived in the Hall of Celestial Purity while the Empresses inhabited the Hall of Earthly Peace. The Hall of Union and Peace was the area where the emperor and empress could live together. In later periods, the Emperor and Empress moved to the Six West Palaces. The Emperor's choice of a son to succeed him is said to be kept in a secret box in the Hall of Celestial purity.

Forbidden City   Forbidden City

Legend has it that during the Ming Dynasty, two concubines tried to kill the Emperor with a rope. As they were very nervous, they accidentally tied a quick release knot. Another courtier watching brought help and the quick release knot was enough to save the Emperor from death. The women involved in the assassination plot were killed and their bodies dismembered and displayed as a lesson to any other would be troublemakers!

The Hall of Prolonged Happiness is known for the Western style crystal palace contained within the Hall. After the original Hall was destroyed by fire, the Emperor Xuantong began constructing a fireproof palace made from white marble and glass in its place. When the palace was half completed, the Qing Dynasty was overthrown and the project stopped.

Contruction In Forbidden City   Keeping Water to proof big fire in old times, Forbidden City

South of here is the Yuqing Palace, the Palace for fasting. The Emperors were expected to fast the night before they offered sacrifices to Heaven. As a general rule, the emperors stayed here for the first two days of their fast and then moved to an imperial residence within the confines of the Temple of Heaven. During the fast the emperors abstained from wine, onions, garlic, chives, praying, involvement in petty affairs and making love. It must have been quite a task for them!

Emperor Qianlong built the Hall of Peaceful Longevity and made it into a Palace for the Emperor Dowager. Each year, on New Years day of the lunar calendar, the emperor would entertain ministers in this pavilion. Cups filled with wine would be placed on the water in the lake of the gardens. If the floating cup stopped in front of you, you were asked to drink the wine and make a poem!

Forbidden City, Corner View From Outside   Forbidden City, Side Gate

The best way to approach a trip to the Forbidden City is to first examine it in detail, either with an audio tape or some reference and then to double back on yourself and just enjoy wandering and imagining what life must have been like there. In order to fully appreciate the majesty of the Forbidden City, try to arrange 2 hours or more time for the visit.

Useful Information For Visiting Forbidden City
TIPS It is closed on Mondays, except the Chinese statutory holidays.
Admission Fee

April to October: RMB 60
November to March: RMB 40
RMB 10 (in Palace of Tranquil Longevity, including the Opera Museum and Stone Drum Museum)
RMB 10 (in Hall for Ancestry Worship)

Important Policies:
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 entrance ticket

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.

Suggested Visit The prime area for sightseeing is the center area of the Imperial Palace, however if time permits, you could also have a walk and visit the west areas.
Opening Hours
Opening Hours
Ticketing Time
Entry Time
April to October


November to March

1. Subway:
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.

2. Bus:
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.

Suggested Tours of the Forbidden City

Beijing Group Tours
Beijing 1 Day Group Tour of Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven and Summer Palace

Beijing Private Tours
Beijing 1/2 Day No Shopping Private Tour of the Forbidden City
Beijing 1 Day Private Tour of Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven and Summer Palace
Beijing 1 Day Private Tour of Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City and Summer Palace
Beijing 1 Day Private Tour of Mutianyu Great Wall, Tiananmen Square and Forbidden City
Beijing 1 Day Private Tour of Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City and Temple of Heaven

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