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The Forbidden City

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Arguably the most iconic sight in Beijing, the Forbidden City stands majestically in the centre of the city, the symbolic heart of Beijing. The Forbidden City's history dates back to the early 15th century and was constructed under the direction of the Ming Dynasty's Yongle Emperor as a residence for the Emperors after the capital was moved to Beijing.

From 1420 to 1912, the Forbidden City was the imperial seat of the Ming and Qing Emperors. Access to the palace grounds was prohibited to all but members of the royal court, on punishment of death, hence why the city is 'forbidden'. After the abdication of Puyi - the last Emperor of China - the Forbidden City was open to the public and in 1925, the Palace Museum was established within its grounds. In 1987, the Forbidden City was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Forbidden City covers an area of 180 acres and consists of 980 buildings. The style of the Forbidden City is typical of Chinese palatial architecture, with bilateral symmetry, construction from wood and use of gold and red imperial colours. There is also a clear reference to dragons in the Forbidden City, with the dragon representing the Emperor.

There are many buildings located in the Forbidden City with some of the most famous including the Hall of Supreme Harmony, the largest structure in the Forbidden City used for ceremonial occasions; the Hall of Mental Cultivation, from where the Emperors ruled; and the Hall of Preserving Harmony, where the Emperor would hold banquets for esteemed guests. There is also an Imperial Garden located within the Forbidden City, which was a private retreat for the Emperor's family and is typical of Chinese garden style.

The Forbidden City, like Buckingham Palace in the UK, is the central heart of Beijing's royal history in China and is at the forefront of Chinese imperial architecture in Beijing.

Forbidden City Holidays

What better way to experience it than on a Wendy Wu tour?

  • Wonders of China
    3 Solo Departure Dates Available

    Wonders of China

    16 days from $5,680pp

    • Great Wall
    • Warriors in Xian
    • Yangtze River Cruise
    • Li River and Yangshuo
    • Bustling Shanghai
    View Tour
  • Majestic Yangtze
    8 Solo Departure Dates Available

    Majestic Yangtze

    14 days from $4,880pp

    • Bustling Shanghai
    • Yangtze River Cruise
    • Chengdu Pandas
    • Warriors in Xian
    View Tour
  • China Delights

    China Delights

    18 days from $5,480pp

    • Li River Cruise
    • Grand Buddha of Leshan
    • Chengdu Pandas
    • Warriors in Xian
    View Tour
View All Forbidden City Tours

Things To See Nearby

  • Discover Great Wall of China
    Great Wall of China

    China's most iconic sight, the Great Wall of China winds its way through the stark landscapes of north China for over 4,000 miles.

  • Discover Tiananmen Square
    Tiananmen Square

    The vast expanse of Tiananmen Square covers over 100 acres making it one of the largest public squares in the world.

  • Discover Summer Palace
    Summer Palace

    Built in 1750 as a summertime playground for the royal family the Summer Palace is a masterpiece of traditional Chinese landscaping.

  • Discover Lama Temple
    Lama Temple

    The Lama Temple, officially known as the Yonghe Temple, is the most renowned Tibetan Buddhist temple outside of Tibet.

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