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Beijing is more than just the capital of China. It is also a bustling metropolis bursting with incredible architecture and a rich history. Nowhere is this culture and heritage more evident than in the Forbidden City.
If you are planning an upcoming trip to China, learn more about the Forbidden City, how to make the most of your time there and what attractions to visit in the surrounding area.
Understanding the History of the Forbidden City
Construction on the Forbidden City, a complex featuring an imperial palace, first began in the 15th century under the Ming Dynasty. It is believed that the initial construction during this time period required the use of one million workers.
In the 17th century, when the Sung Dynasty took over the rule of China, parts of the palace buildings were burned. When the Manchu Dynasty came into power, they made several changes and additions.
Getting to the Forbidden City
The Forbidden City is located in the district of Dongcheng, which is found in the very center of Beijing, China. Many hotels and tourism accommodation options are within this district, which is also home to landmarks like Tiananmen Square.
From within Dongcheng, walking may be the best way to get to the Forbidden City, and visitors can follow signs in English or in Chinese, which will read 故宫. From elsewhere in Beijing, the subway is a great way to get to the Forbidden City.
Lines six and seven have stations nearby, so get off at either Tiananmen West or Tiananmen East stations.
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Top Attractions to See in the Forbidden City
The first big attraction in the Forbidden City will be the gate you walk through upon entry, which is called the Meridian Gate. The courtyard in the center of the complex, which boasts water features and numerous bridges, is also a stunning part of the Forbidden City that could once hold up to 100,000 people.
Worth noting is that there are several buildings in the Forbidden City besides the large palace museum. However, not all are open to the public.
Those you shouldn’t miss include the Complete Palace of Peace and Longevity, the Lesser Central Halls, the Three Great Halls and the Imperial Garden. Although it is possible to take a guided tour through the Forbidden City, many guests are happy to have the audio tour, which is available for a small fee at the entrance.
What Not to Miss While in the Dongcheng District
Some of the must-see attractions near the Forbidden City include Tiananmen Square itself, which is home to the Chairman Mao Memorial Hall and the Monument to the People’s Heroes.
Also within walking distance are the Yonghegong and Zhihua Temples, the National Museum of China, the Temple of Heaven Park and a variety of authentic local restaurants serving up Chinese culinary specialties.
The Forbidden City is one of the most fascinating and culturally significant landmarks in the world, and no trip to China would be complete without a visit.