13 December 2008

The Forbidden City

One of our many stops in Beijing was to the Forbidden City. Home to Chinese emperors from it's completion in 1420, the Forbidden City has 980 surviving rooms and covers 720,000 square meters, which is a lot of squares. Declared a World Heritage Site in 1987, UNSECO listed it as the world's largest collection of preserved ancient wooden structures in the world. Shrouded in mystery, the city was as forbidden as its name implies and it wasn't just anyone who got an invite; until the Japanese and Western governments helped the Boxers topple the last Qing Empire and replace it with Sun Yat Sen and Chiang Kai Shek then later with Mao. I think they got the fair end of that deal, no? Sorry, I just finished an Anchee Min book and find myself feeling uncharacteristically sympathetic towards the (former)Chinese government...In any case, Royal Palace or tourist attraction the Forbidden City still rises majestically in the center of Beijing.

Even after entering the main gate the massive size of the city is not immediately apparent and remains so until you start passing through the various halls and buildings and you just keep going like it stretches on forever.

Once you're done being completely overwhelmed by the sheer immensity of the space you can concentrate on details...like the longest single piece marble carving in the world.

And the color! Oh my gosh the colors. And all the fantastic details both large and small.

And have I mentioned that there are also gardens? The gardens are buried way in the back and were for the private use of only the emperor and his court.

It was really amazing to be able to see this with my own eyes. I've seen the Forbidden City featured in many movies, read about it's history and histories of the people who have ruled it and to finally be there myself was a real privledge.

1 comment:

Ertman-Trowbridge Family said...

Oh, my! Absolutely amazing. I would give much to be able to experience what you did. To see this place in person would be incredible. You're right; you read about it, see it in movies, hear about it, etc. but to be there . . . Wow!