The heart of the Middle Kingdom of China, this palace was originally constructed during the early Ming Dynasty and is among the best preserved imperial palaces in China. It is also the world’s largest ancient palatial structure.
Housing thousands of rooms for 14 emperors, the Forbidden City is an important historical monument in China. It is also a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site.
The palace contains thousands of historical relics that date back several hundred years, including beautiful paintings, jade, ceramics and everyday items used by the imperial families.
The Forbidden City ranks as one of the five most important palaces in the world and shares this coveted distinction with Buckingham Palace, the Palace of Versailles, the Kremlin and the White House.
The Forbidden City is located in the heart of ancient Beijing and was home to 24 emperors between 1368 and 1911, expanding two dynasties – the Ming and Qing.
Construction of this grand palace began in 1406 by Emperor Yongle and ended in 1420. At the time, many believed that the emperor was the direct son of Heaven, so the palace was built as a replica of the Purple Palace, where God was thought to dwell in Heaven.
Due to the holiness of the palace and its architecture, ordinary people could not gain entrance, which is how it became known as the Forbidden City. To further protect the palace, a 32-foot tall defensive wall was constructed around the circumference of the palace, spanning 11,253 feet. At each corner is an impressive watchtower, which was once heavily guarded. There is also a moat around the palace, which was its first line of defense against enemy attacks.
The Forbidden City covers 178 acres and has a floor space of more than 1,600,000 square feet. It features 90 palaces and courtyards, 8,704 rooms and 980 buildings.
Here are some fun facts about the Forbidden City:
- It’s the single most popular tourist attraction in China and has more than 14 million visitors annually.
- It features more than 9,999 rooms that are brimming with ancient artifacts.
- The palace is only one of China’s astounding three ancient palaces but is the largest ancient palace in the world.
- Nearby restaurants can prepare Peking duck so visitors can dine like emperors.
- The palace museum is the world’s largest cultural museum.
- It’s three times the size of the Kremlin and twice the size of the Vatican.
- It was home to 24 Chinese emperors.
- Explore the area around the palace, including Tiananmen Square, which is within walking distance.
- Spring and fall are the two best times to visit the palace.
- The palace is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
If you’re interested in exploring China’s Forbidden City, check out our most popular tours.