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The Forbidden City


The Forbidden City is the world's largest surviving palace complex and covers 72 ha.

"The Forbidden City" is a translation into English of the Chinese name Zijin Cheng, which literally means "Purple Forbidden City". The Forbidden City is the world's largest surviving palace complex and covers 72 ha. It is located in the middle of Beijing, and now houses the Palace Museum. For almost five centuries, it served as the home of the Emperor and his household, as well as the ceremonial and political center of Chinese government.

Build from 1406 to 1420, the complex consists of 980 surviving buildings with 8,707 rooms. The palace complex exemplifies traditional Chinese palatial architecture, and has influenced cultural and architectural developments in East Asia and elsewhere. Construction lasted 15 years, and required more than a million workers.

The Forbidden City is surrounded by a 7.9 meter high city wall and a six-meters deep, 52 meters wide moat. The walls are 8.62 meters wide at the base, tapering to 6.66 meters at the top. These walls served as both defensive walls and retaining walls for the palace. Traditionally, the Forbidden City is divided into two parts. The Outer Court or Front Court includes the southern sections, and was used for ceremonial purposes. The Inner Court or Black Palace includes the northern sections, and was the residence of the Emperor and his family.

The wall is pierced by a gate on each side. At the southern end is the main Meridian Gate. To the north is the Gate of Divine Might, which faces Jingshan Park. The east and west gates are called the East Glotious Gate and the West Glorious Gate. To the south, two nearly identical gatehouses stand along the Main Axis. They are the Upright Gate and the more famous Tiananmen Gate, that connects the Forbidden City with Tiananmen Square. On the other three sides, the Forbidden City is surrounded by imperial gardens.

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