Forbidden City

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Why the
Forbidden City 
in Beijing is special

For nearly 500 years (1420-1911), twenty-four emperors of the Ming and Qing Dynasties ruled China from inside the Forbidden City. It has lavishly decorated ceremonial halls and royal palaces that were built to impress the eye. 

Forbidden City
tips and insights


The emperors who lived within the massive walls seldom ventured outside.

Palace intrigue

It was rampant. So were internal political power struggles.


The compound has three appellations:

Public Museum

New official name

Imperial City

Old official name

Forbidden City

The nickname, which most travelers use today

Meaning of
"Forbidden City"

The complex gained its ominous sounding sobriquet because entry was once strictly prohibited without royal authorization. A visit without that sanction would automatically cost your life.

Physical condition

The Forbidden City is in much better condition today than it was on my first visit several decades ago. The government has been making a major effort in renovating the palace, bringing it back to its former architectural grandeur.

Location in China

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