The Imperial Palace @ The Forbidden City, Beijing, China – UNESCO Site

The Forbidden City – We have read about it & seen movies about it, but never did we imagined what was in front of us!  A huge City or Forte surrounded with magnificent walls and moat, with enormous gates. It was forbidden to enter without special permission of the Emperor, hence its name, ”The Forbidden City,” and now it’s called the Palace Museum. It is the world’s largest palace complex.  We took a ride  to the Forbidden City in one of those rickshaws, swerving around cars and through streets. It was very exciting.  As we walked towards the Forbidden City, all we can say is “WOW”!  We didn’t imagine it was this big. The City has a aura about it, a lingering power in its presence still surrounds this magnificent structure. As we lined up to get tickets to get into the Palace, there were merchants selling souvenirs and speaking in Mandarin. The tourists were mostly of Chinese or Asian descent, during this time of the year. We traveled in May and the weather was perfect, not too hot nor too cold.

There is so much to see once you are inside the Forbidden City.  There are little shops within the Palace for those who like to purchase souvenirs within the Walls rather than outside.  It took us hours to walk through the grounds.  I think we were walking for 4 to 5 hours once we were in the Forbidden City. Most of the what use to be the living areas of the Palace are not accessible to tourists.  You can line up and view it from outside but you can’t go into some of the palace grounds.  I couldn’t help but wondered what life was like living within these walls as we strolled hand-in-hand.  The ornate palace took our gaze, from one tower to the next.  We stopped at a shop and ended up dressing up in Imperial costumes. Shankar was a Samurai warrior and I was the Queen in distress LOL. Well, sort of.  We had a blast doing it!

Our next stop within the Palace was at an art gallery where all their works were painted by hand. We were looking for a hand-painting of the Forbidden City.  After a 1/2 hour of looking for it, we finally found one we loved. We asked them to inscribe the date on the back of the painting.  Purchasing in China is all about a good bargain. After our walk through of the Palace we took the rickshaw ride back to our hotel, the SunWorld Dynasty Hotel, to prepare for the “Legend of  Kung Fu” show we booked.

We were able to get front row seats at the Red Theater for the show.  The show is cast with about 40 performers, with different forms of Kung Fu.  It was great watching the young kids performing Kung Fu, something I always saw on television (Shankar has practiced Tae Kwon Do and Judo, so for him Kung Fu was normal). It was a magnificent action-oriented show, a must see if you are in Beijing. After the show, we had dinner at a superb Chinese restaurant, where the Peking duck was spectacular. OMG…it was so good…. As we were heading to the airport for our next destination, we saw our first eclipse together.  It was amazing to witness such a spectacular moment in history in a totally different country.

“Built in 1406 to 1420, the complex consists of 980 buildings and covers 7,800,000 sq ft. The palace complex exemplifies traditional Chinese palatial architecture, and has influenced cultural and architectural developments in East Asia. The Forbidden City was declared a World Heritage Site in 1987, and is listed by UNESCO as the largest collection of preserved ancient wooden structures in the world. The Forbidden City is surrounded by 26 feet high city wall and 20 feet deep by 171 feet wide moat. The walls are 28.3 feet wide at the base, tapering to 21.9 feet at the top. These walls served as both defensive walls and retaining walls for the palace. They were constructed with a rammed earth core, and surfaced with three layers of specially baked bricks on both sides, with the interstices filled with mortar.” [wiki]

Site is Inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List

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