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Science And Nature

Go inside China’s Forbidden Citydomain of the emperor and his court for pretty much 500 years

Published September 13, 2022

20 min read

In the center of modern Beijing may be the worlds largest palace complex, big enough to carry 50 Buckingham Palaces and covering a lot more than 7.75 million square feet. Referred to as the Forbidden City, it served because the symbolic and political center of imperial China between 1420 and 1912. Its forbidding moniker reflected how most subjects of the realm were never permitted to enter its walls.

The complete complex is filled up with palaces, gardens, courtyards, and living quarters. It had been built by the Yongle emperor, the 3rd Ming ruler (r. 1403-1424). He declared himself emperor and consolidated his power in Beijing, moving the administrative centre some 620 miles from Nanjing in 1403. Sources say it took 100,000 artisans and a million forced laborers to create the Beijing complex between 1406 and 1420, on the webpage where Kublai Khan had once built his famous palace.

The Forbidden Citys name in Chinese, Zijincheng, literally means purple forbidden city. The colour purple is known as auspicious in Chinese culture and symbolizes divinity and immortality, along with the North Star. The Forbidden City will be the home and seat of power for 24 rulers14 from the Ming dynasty (1368-1644) and 10 from the Qing (1644-1911). Once the Manchu Qing emperors overthrew the Ming, they added new structures and gardens, however the complexs importance remained undiminished.

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