The Palace Museum (故宫博物院)

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The Forbidden City was the seat of Imperial power for 500 years, and it is now one of China s major tourist attractions

Information on this page last updated:2016-11-22 17:56:28

Admission: 60 RMB (April - Oct.); 40 RMB (Nov. - March)
Opening Hours: Peak Season: 8:30-17:00 (Apr. 1st to Oct. 31st)
Off-season: 8:30-16:30 (Nov. 1st to Mar. 31st)
Phone: +86 10 65132255
Best Time to Visit: April to October
Recommended Time for a Visit: 3 Hours


The Palace Museum was commissioned by the third Emperor of the Ming Dynasty, Emperor Yong Le. The palace was built between 1406 and 1420, but was burnt down, rebuilt, sacked and renovated countless times, so most of the architecture you can see today dates from the 1700’s and onward. The Forbidden City was the seat of Imperial power for 500 years, and is now a major tourist attraction in China.

The total area of the complex is 183 acres, so it takes quite a while to walk through, especially if you want to have a close look at everything. All together there are 9,999 1/2 rooms in the Museum, not all of which can be visited. The Imperial Palace is rectangle in architecture. It is 961 meters long from south to north and 753 meters wide. There is city wall which is 10 meters high around and the moat outside of city wall is 52 meters wide.

The Imperial Palace has 4 gates. The Gate of Divine Prowess (Shenwumen) in the north, Merdian Gate (Wumen) in the south, the Eastern Floral Gate (Donghuamen) in the east, and the Western Floral Gate (Xinhuamen) in the south, the Eestem Folwery Gate (Donghuamen) in the east, and the Western Flowery Gate (xinhuamen) in the west.

There are 4 corner towers at the 4 corners of the city wall and the whole area is 724.250 square meters. In whole, the Imperial Palace is divided into two parts: the front court and back chamber. Not only in the Imperial Palace, the monarch bed chamber of Ming Dynasty and Qing Dynasty is divided like so. The front court of the Imperial Palace mainly includes the 3 palaces of mid-way and the Hall of Literary Glory (Wenhuadian), the Pavilion of the Source of Literature (Wenyuange), Shang Si Court, Arrow tower, Imperial Hospital, and the Imperial Teahouse. Qing Embassy and Cabinet Warehouse are in the east as well as Yu Ying Palace and Yan An Palace. The Internal Affairs Mansion, Building Office and Nan Xun Palace are in the west. The back bedchamber includes Back Three Palaces of mid way (the Palace of Heavenly Purity (Qianqinggong), the Palace of Union and Peace (Jiaotaidian) and the Palace of Earthly Tranquility (Kunninggong). The East Six Palaces, Feng Xian Palace, Ning Shou Palace and the Palace of Abstinence (Zhaigong) are in the east, while the West Six Palace, the Hall of Mental Cultivation (Yangxindian), Ci Ning Palace, Ning Shou Palace Kang Palace and Shou An Palace are in the west. So you can choose one route or two routes among the middle or you can choose one route or two routes among the mid-way (outside court, internal court travel route), west-way (internal court west travel route) and east-way (internal court east and external east travel route).

If you not part of a tour group, we suggest you rent a multi lingual guide record at Meridian Gate (Wumen) and return it when you arrive at the Gate of Divine Prowess (Shenwumen). After you visit the Imperial Palace, you should go out of the Gate of Divine Prowess (Shenwumen), enter Jingshan Park and take in the panorama of the Imperial Palace. In addition, we suggest that on cool nights in the summer you visit the front-street of Jingshan Park by pedi-cab . The shining lights are bright and the Forbidden City is brilliant. Colored lights from all directions lighten Meridian Gate (Wumen), the Gate of Divine Prowess (Shenwumen) turret, the palace wall and other main palaces.

Featured Attractions: Imperial roof decoration of highest status on the roof ridge of the Hall of Supreme Harmony. The design of the Forbidden City, from its overall layout to the smallest detail, was meticulously planned to reflect philosophical and religious principles, and above all to symbolize the majesty of Imperial power. Some noted examples of symbolic designs include: Yellow is the color of the Emperor. Thus almost all roofs in the Forbidden City bear yellow glazed tiles. There are only two exceptions. The library at the Pavilion of Literary Profundity (文渊阁) had black tiles because black was associated with water, and thus fire-prevention. Similarly, the Crown Prince's residences have green tiles because green was associated with wood, and thus growth. The main halls of the Outer and Inner courts are all arranged in groups of three – the shape of the Qian triagram, representing Heaven. The residences of the Inner Court on the other hand are arranged in groups of six – the shape of the Kun triagram, representing the Earth. The sloping ridges of building roofs are decorated with a line of statues led by a man riding a phoenix and followed by an imperial dragon. The number of statues represents the status of the building – a minor building might have 3 or 5. The Hall of Supreme Harmony has 10, the only building in the country to be permitted this in Imperial times. As a result, its 10th statue, called a "Hangshi", or "ranked tenth" is also unique in the Forbidden City. The layout of buildings follows ancient customs laid down in the “Classic of Rites”. Thus, ancestral temples are in front of the palace. Storage areas are placed in the front part of the palace complex, and residences in the back.


Address: No. 4 Jingshan Front Street, Dongcheng District, Beijing


Subway: Subway Line 1: get off at Tiananmen West or Tiananmen East Station, walk north through the Tiananmen Tower (Gate of Heavenly Peace), and then you'll find the Meridian Gate (south gate)

Scenic Pictures