International Recognition

In 1961 the Forbidden City was listed as an important historical monument under Chinese central government special preservation.
In 1987, it was nominated as World Cultural Heritage by UNESCO. The Palace Museum is a treasure house of Chinese cultural and historical relics.
It is recognized as one of the most important five palaces in the world (the other four are the Palace of Versailles in France, Buckingham Palace in the UK, the White House in the US, and the Kremlin in Russia).

The Forbidden City is a large precinct of red walls and yellow glazed roof tiles located in the heart of China’s capital, Beijing. As its name suggests, the precinct is a micro-city in its own right. Measuring 961 meters in length and 753 meters in width, the Forbidden City is composed of more than 90 palace compounds including 98 buildings and surrounded by a moat as wide as 52 meters.

The Forbidden City was the political and ritual center of China for over 500 years. After its completion in 1420, the Forbidden City was home to 24 emperors, their families and servants during the Ming (1368–1644) and the Qing (1644–1911) dynasties. The last occupant (who was also the last emperor of imperial China), Puyi (1906–67), was expelled in 1925 when the precinct was transformed into the Palace Museum. Although it is no longer an imperial precinct, it remains one of the most important cultural heritage sites and the most visited museum in the People’s Republic of China, with an average of eighty thousand visitors every day.

Interesting facts
There are 13,844 dragon images in the Forbidden City.

All the doors have 81 nails, that is 9 rows of 9 nails each—except for the Donghua Gate, which only has 8 rows. Since coffins were also carried through this gate, the number of nails needed to be an even number, also known as a Yin number.

The Forbidden City has 9 million visitors annually.

Beginning with the Qing Dynasty there was a law that in certain areas of the Forbidden City, no ‘real men’ were allowed to remain after sunset. This explains the former presence of up to 3000 eunuchs.

Those looking for old toilets will be disappointed: there was not a single toilet in the Forbidden City.  Instead, metal or wooden bed pans were used, with designs ranging from simple to very elegant depending on the user’s rank or affiliation. After use, they were covered with ashes and cleaned by the eunuchs.

During the Qing Dynasty, the smoking of tobacco and opium was widespread. A silk bag with a small pipe and tobacco was a typical gift for a child’s eighth birthday.

It can be very cold in Beijing. Did people used to freeze in the winter? Absolutely not. In winter, the Forbidden City could be heated effectively.  So-called hollow walls were connected to pipes leading to ovens outside of the rooms. Even beds were heated this way. For little walks in the city the court ladies even had small pocket warmers. These were small vessels of bronze, filled with coal.

The emperor was able to select from forty different dishes for breakfast.  Not served from a menu, but already cooked and served in a palace. To guarantee the emperor’s safety, all the dishes were tasted by a servant first. Every dish also bore a silver spoon,  which would have indicated various poisons by discoloration.

Becoming a concubine was not easy. Not only did they have to conform to very specific height and weight guidelines – including toes, nose, length of arms, etc. – but they also had to be trained in various skills.  But most important: they had to smell good, and this without any aids. The court ladies made the inspection. It was a great disgrace not to pass this test. In this sense, today’s beauty contests could be considered very superficial!

The many bronze vats in the Forbidden City were not just for decoration – they were also waters tanks in case of fire. In winter, they were even heated from below to prevent the water from freezing.

Opera performances were very popular in the Forbidden City. But the performers lived dangerously: since most operas were stories about the emperors, every word had to be carefully considered. Some emperors were very strict in the interpretation of what was funny or not. Therefore, the consequences for the composers and performers could be quite drastic…

The golden lions in front of the imperial palace both had thirteen curls on their head.  This was the highest number, reserved only for the emperor. Other high-ranking politicians and dignitaries differed in the number of curls specified for the heads of the lions that they placed in front of their homes. With less then seven curls it was even forbidden to have a lion at the gate.

The Forbidden City was the abode of the Chinese Emperors, their families, staff and government officials. It was occupied by emperors from Ming Dynasty to the end of the Qing Dynasty. It is one of the most significant symbols of ancient Chinese government. Below are some interesting facts about the city.

1. The city was built from 1406 to 1420 and consists of 980 buildings that cover 720,000 square meters (7,800,000 sq. ft.).

2. The Forbidden City was declared by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 1987 and also declared as the world's largest preservation of wooden structures from ancient world.

3. The Forbidden City is home to one of the biggest museums in the world - the Palace Museum - that boasts imperial collection spanning the Ming and Qing Dynasties.

4. Among the materials used to construct the palace include; marbles from the surrounding quarries, logs of precious Phoebe zhennan wood and golden bricks.

5. The Forbidden City was home to home of 24 emperors – 14 of the Ming Dynasty and 10 of the Qing Dynasty.

6. The city ceased to be the seat of political power in 1912 after Puyi, the last Emperor of China, abdicated and allowed the formation of new Republic of China.

7. The Forbidden City is an array of ancient building and artifacts that include; porcelain and jade, gardens, plazas, historic sites, and 9,999 rooms.

8. 90% of the roofs are finished with glazed yellow tiles. Yellow was the official color of Chinese Emperors.

9. Each of the 9,999 rooms is decorated with statues. As the importance of each building grows, the number of statues increases. The most important room has a maximum of 10 statues.

10. About one million artifacts that are housed within the Palace Museum in the Forbidden City are considered Chinese National Heritage items and are thus under the protection of the Chines government.

The Forbidden City is the main attraction to tourists in the Chinese capital - Beijing. It is one of the most visited ancient sites in the world and a tour here will be an eye opener. Very few other museums in the world can claim as much history as the Forbidden City.