Dennis Wright's Blog

Allowed into the Forbidden City

Posted in China, Far East Cruise 2007, Video by Dennis Wright on May 24, 2007

From the Temple of Heaven our coach took us to the Forbidden City, a large rectangular complex of palaces 1km North of Tiananmen Square.

Compared with Hong Kong and Shanghai, Beijing struck us as very ordinary looking. A fairly dull city with a few extraordinary historical treasures dotted about.

Beijing Street

The journey was painfully slow thanks to the abominable traffic in central Beijing. Heaven knows how they’ll cope with the Olympics.

The Forbidden City was home to the Chinese Emperors until 1911 when Puyi, the last Qing Emperor, abdicated at the age of 6. Big decision for a 6 year old. You’ve probably seen the film about him, The Last Emperor. He lived on in the Forbidden City for a while after losing his Emperorship, was later booted out and ended up working as a gardener, of all things, before dying in his 60s.

The Forbidden City, so called because it used to be off limits to the populace at large, covers a vast area, some 720,000 square metres, and is now open to the public as a museum. Like the Temple of Heaven, a lot of money has been spent on restoring it, and work continues.

Just inside the Meridian Gate there are five bridges crossing the oddly curving Golden Water River. They represent the five virtues preached by Confucius: kindness, integrity, decorum, wisdom and fidelity. He had the right idea. We could do with more of all of those today.

Only the Emperor was permitted to walk on the bas-relief walkway:

Some parts have not been restored and probably won’t be. It would be too big and expensive a job, even with the Olympics coming up.

The Emperor’s Throne.

We collected photos of memorable or amusingly poorly translated signs. This one refers to another kind of throne. The star rating is presumably because you can actually sit on it, in other words it’s not just a hole in the ground. Finding decent loos was not always straightforward in China.

Another photo-worthy sign in the garden area. A funny signs special will follow.

The aforementioned perilous hills:

Vodpod videos no longer available.


8 Responses

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  1. Alendra said, on December 7, 2012 at 11:18 am

    Wow Jen what a beautiful place, taknhs for sharing the inspiring photos. Hope your well I am just catching up on your blog and I will email soon this week I hope:D Pets to your baby and hope the heads doing well too.

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  3. emj195 said, on July 16, 2010 at 10:56 pm

    The Forbidden City, Beijing (JIGSAW IN BIG SCREEN) –>

  4. […] Notes: Forbidden City Allowed into the Forbidden City Blog including a […]

  5. […] Hasta la vista, Vista! Vista is on trial and my XP install disk is within easy reach « Vista’s Morning Sickness Tiananmen Square at Dusk » Allowed into the Forbidden City May 24th, 2007 This post has been moved here. […]

  6. […] the Chinese capital at Beijing (it was previously Nanjing), being behind the building of the Forbidden City and the Temple of Heaven, a refortification of the Great Wall of China, and the Ming Tomb area […]

  7. […] the Chinese capital at Beijing (it was previously Nanjing), being behind the building of the Forbidden City and the Temple of Heaven, a refortification of the Great Wall of China, and the Ming Tomb area […]

  8. Naomi Wright said, on May 24, 2007 at 10:12 pm

    4* toilets you presumed that you could sit on them. No such luck, only the one Western style available,the rest were true Chinese hole in the ground jobs. As for loo paper, forget it. Thank heavens the guide books warned us of this problem we were fully equipped with Andrex wipes and antiseptic hand gel!!!! Another recommendation would have been nose plugs.

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