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Beijing Centre Home Page > Forbidden City

Taking a Beijing tour is absolutely worthwhile! 

The Great Wall of China, the grandest ancient military fortification in the world, is a must for every traveler to China. 

The Forbidden City, a splendid complex of imperial palaces from China's Ming and Qing dynasties in the center of the city, shows the mysterious and luxurious life of the Chinese emperors. 

Other imperial structures that are worth visiting include Summer Palace, Lama Temple and Temple of Heaven. 

A good place to start exploring the city is Tiananmen Square, where Mao Zedong declared the foundation of the People’s Republic of China. To stand – alongside thousands of visitors – and see the imposing majesty of the Forbidden City to the north and the vast portrait of Mao Zedong on the Tiananmen Gate itself is to appreciate the awesome hold that China’s rulers have always had on the people.

Tiananmen Square Tourist Map

Forbidden City: 紫禁城或故宫博物院 

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Forbidden City (Chinese: 紫禁城 / Pinyin: Zi Jin Cheng)

The Forbidden City (known officially as the Imperial 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 on wards. 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 Forbidden City, so-called because it was off-limits to most of the world for 500 years, is the best preserved cluster of ancient buildings in China. The old world of beautiful concubines and priapic emperors, ball-breaking (and broken) eunuchs and conspicuous wealth still hovers over the lush gardens, courtyards, pavilions and great halls of the palace.

To get in to the Forbidden City requires a 30 yuan ticket (45 yuan for a through ticket). Also you can have a headphone tour, in which Roger Moore’s voice will guide you through each of the main halls and attractions. If you don’t have a human tour guide, this is definitely the way to go. You can enter the Forbidden City through either of two gates; the front gate, which is inside the Tian’anmen Gate (not to be confused with Tian’anmen Square), or the west-facing Wumen Gate, which was originally where Imperial execution orders were carried out.

Although many of the Forbidden City’s finest treasures were taken away by the Nationalist armies as they fled to Taiwan, there are still quite a few impressive relics left in the rooms of the palace. There is also a garden which features a grove of beautiful old cypress and pine trees, as well as the largest of the strange rock sculptures that are studded about the Palace grounds.

If you go to see the Hal of Ancient Clocks (which has an authentic Chinese water clock!) you will have to purchase a pair of “Cultural Relic Protection Shoes (or CRaPS), which are ridiculous-looking florescent orange slipper things that you put on over your shoes. The CraPS go for a violating 2 yuan per pair ($0.25). Also, if you buy the through ticket, remember to keep your ticket handy for inspection, as you will need to show it upon entering certain different parts of the museum. If you lose the original ticket you will have to buy a new one at each separate section, although these tickets are only about 5 yuan a piece. There are souvenir shops everywhere with tons of cheap kitsch, but one store by the Clocks Hall actually has some nice stuff for sale. Bargaining is allowed.

Chinese Name: 紫禁城或故宫博物院

Tel: 010-6513 2255 (Chinese language only)

Open: Oct.15 – Mar.31, 8:30am-4:30pm, stop selling the tickets at 3:30pm

           Apr.01 – Oct.14, 8:30pm-5:00pm, stop selling the tickets at 4:00pm

Official website:

Beijing information: Beijing Introduction | Beijing Capital International AirportBeijing Climate & Transportation

Health, Emergency & Embassies | Beijing Holidays and Festivals | Beijing Attractions | Tian An Men Square | Forbidden City | Beihai Park | Summer Palace | Temple of Heaven | Great Wall: Badaling Great Wall

Beijing Centre: Serviced apartments are alternative choices to Beijing hotels starting at 60 US$ per day. Located in Chaoyang District, half way between Beijing International Airport and Beijing downtown, it is the perfect choice for a stay in Beijing for up to 4 persons. Services included: complementary daily house-keeping, pick-up and send off to the Beijing International Capital Airport. 

Serviced apartments in Beijing available from 60 US$ (46 Euros) per day.

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