In 1421, after 17 years under construction, Yongle, a Ming emperor, became the first to occupy the imperial palace and residence. 24 Ming and Qing dynasty emperors followed him until 1911 when Puyi, China's last emperor of the Qing Dynasty, addicated the throne on the founding of the Chinese Republic. While it is known as the Imperial Palace many know it as the Forbidden Palace. It earned the name because ordinary people were barred from entering the grounds until 1911. The palace occupies 170 acres and contains 8,706 rooms. It is estimated that 8 to 10 thousand people lived within the palace to service the needs of the emperor. Eunuchs, up to 3 thousand of them, along with the emperor's maids and concubines lived within its 160 foot moat and behind its 30 foot high walls following the strict rules and rituals of imperial life. Anyone who would like to see what the Imperial Palace looks like should watch the movie "The Last Emperor." It was filmed on location and shows in much detail much of the palace grounds and its buildings. Of course the experience isn't the same as visiting the palace in person, but it will give you a good idea of what the palace is like.

Passing beneath Mao's portrait and through Tiananmen, the Gate of Heavenly Peace, you enter a large courtyard heading toward the Imperial Palace. Before you lies Wumen, Meridian Gate, rising 117 feet. Here you purchase your tickets to enter the Imperial Palace.


The first thing that strikes you about the palace is its immense size. It occupies 170 acres and, while there are many buildings of various sizes, contains areas of vast open space. Turning around and looking at Wumen you can see the bridges crossing the Goldwater River.

Wumen from within the palace grounds

Wumen, Meridian Gate

Passing through Wumen you have entered the Forbidden Palace and are facing the Gate of Supreme Harmony.

Gate of Supreme Harmony

From this point, rather than trying to provide a running commentary we'll go to just pictures and captions. It's impossible for me to accurately identify all of the buildings we saw, but I will caption those that I know. Enjoy the pictures.

Ornate roof structures were fascinating as were the intricate carvings on the corners of the roof

Vast courtyard with buildings on the perimeter


Continue to the next page for more pictures of the Imperial Palace ...

Taihe Dian, Hall of Supreme Harmony, inside
is the ornately carved and gold Dragon Throne (below)

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Welcome to our China 2001 Photo Album
Planning and Getting there: Grand Circle Tours and Northwest Airlines
Beijing : Arriving in Beijing | Tiananmen Square | The Imperial (Forbidden) Palace (1) | The Imperial Palace (2) | The Nine Sons of the Dragon
The Imperial Palace Garden | The Summer Palace | Summer Palace (2) | Summer Palace (3) | Summer Palace (4) | Local Beijing Market
Local Beijing Market (2) | Hutong | Bell Tower | Hutong Family, Dinner and the Opera | Cloisonné Factory | Ming Tombs | Ming Tombs (2)
Great Wall of China at Ba Da Ling | Temple of Heaven
Shanghai : Arriving Shanghai | Yuyuan Garden | Yuyuan Garden (2) | The Temple of the Jade Buddha | The Bund | Day Excursion to Suzhou
Silk Process | The Administrator's Garden of Suzhou | Shanghai Museum of Art
Cruising the Yangtze River : Yangtze Cruise, Day 1 | Yangtze Cruise, Day 2 | The Xiling and Wu Gorge | The Lesser Three Gorges
The Lesser Three Gorges (2) | The Qutang Gorge | Wanxian | The Last Day of Cruising | Regal China Cruise Lines
Chongqing : Chongqing
Xi'an : Xi'an and Emperor Qin's Terracotta Warriors | Emperor's Qin's Terracotta Warriors (2) | Great Wild Goose Pagoda and Xi'an City Wall
Quilin : The Limestone Peaks of the Li River | The Limestone Peaks of the Li River (2) | Guilin and the Childrens Park | Children's Park (2) and Reed Flute Cave
The Hotels: Hotels, rail and air travel in China
Hong Kong : Victoria Peak, Repulse Bay and Aberdeen Fishing Village | Hong Kong at Sunset | Hong Kong Bird & Flower Market
| New Territories Fishing Village | Hong Kong Farewell Dinner
Bangkok : Jim Thompson House and Golden Buddha | The Flower Market | The Food Vendors | Grand Palace | Mystical Figures | Brightly Painted Masks on Mystical Figures
Golden Mystical Figures | Buildings of the Grand Palace | Lunching at the Shangri La Hotel | Loy Nava Rice Barge Cruise | Ayutthaya, Ancient Capital of Siam
Wat Yai Chai Mongkol and the Reclining Buddha | Bang Pa In, The Summer Palace |

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