The Forbidden City in Beijing is China’s largest imperial palace and is listed by UNSECO as a World Heritage Site in 1987.
The Forbidden City was commissioned by the Ming Emperor Yongle in 1406. He had seized the throne from his nephew Emperor Jian Wen and shifted the Ming capital from Nanjing to Beijing where he was based.
As the capital of the Ming Empire, the Forbidden City was the seat of his imperial authority and the centre of his empire. Over the next 500 years, Forbidden City was home to 24 emperors from the Ming and Qing dynasties.
The last resident of Forbidden City is Puyi who was also the last emperor of China. Although the Qing dynasty abdicated in 1912, he managed to stay in the Forbidden City until his expulsion in 1924.
RECENT HISTORY OF FORBIDDEN CITY
The following year, Forbidden City became Gu Gong Museum, 故宫博物院, and for the first time in 500 years, ordinary people could enter what was once forbidden. In fact, this was the first time in the history of China when ordinary people could enter an imperial palace whenever they choose to!
Despite its name change, Forbidden City continued to be its better known name and reference. Although the Forbidden City has almost 1000 rooms, most visitors roam through the three most important audience halls (Zhong He Dian, Bao He Dian and Tai He Dian) followed by the halls in the inner palace and the Imperial Garden. Opposite the palace is the Coal Hill (or Prospect Hill) that offers a view of the entire palace complex and surrounding area.
In recent times, the Forbidden City was occupied and looted three times by occupation forces; Anglo-French forces in 1860 during the Second Opium War, Eight Nations Allied forces in 1900 during the Boxer Rebellion and by the Japanese in 1937 during the Sino Japanese War.
In fact, years before the Japanese invasion, the Republic of China government removed many precious artifacts from the Palace for safekeeping. When the Nationalists lost the civil war in 1949, these artifacts were transported to Taiwan. The National Palace Museum, a replica of the Forbidden City, was constructed to house the artifacts.
Written by : Chinatownology