foirbidden city
Forbidden City, Beijing, China

As a many-time visitor to the Forbidden City as a Beijing resident, it is easy to imagine, but impossible to comprehend, the true grandeur and opulence of Imperial China. The site today is noted for seething crowds, seemingly disinterested tour groups, megaphone monologues, touting tour guide wannabes and probably feeling like wanting to escape it all as soon as possible. More than one visit at offpeak times and at your own pace is required to appreciate the ambience of the place.

The Forbidden City was the Chinese imperial palace from the mid-Ming Dynasty to the end of the Qing Dynasty. It is located in the middle of Beijing, China and now houses the Palace Museum. For almost five centuries, it served as the home of the Emperor and his household, and the ceremonial and political centre of Chinese government.

Built from 1406 to 1420, the complex consists of 980 surviving buildings with 8,707 bays of rooms and covers 720,000 square metres. The palace complex exemplifies traditional Chinese palatial architecture, and has influenced cultural and architectural developments in East Asia and elsewhere. The Forbidden City was declared a World Heritage Site in 1987, and is listed by UNESCO as the largest collection of preserved ancient wooden structures in the world.

Very few other Chinese locations are visited more or photographed more, but the overwhelming feature is the imperial red synonymous with even present day China. It is, in essence, a photographers paradise. Here are a selection of images I have compiled from other Flickr members which are not necessarily the standard tourist perspective and not the type of image you will see duplicated a hundred times in travel brochures.

View MY images of Beijing, including the Forbidden City and Palace Museum, on Flickr HERE.