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a Beijing tour is absolutely worthwhile!
Great Wall of China, the grandest ancient military fortification in
the world, is a must for every traveler to China.
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.
imperial structures that are worth visiting include Summer Palace,
Lama Temple and Temple of Heaven.
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
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
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
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
Official website: www.dpm.com.cn