What’s the Forbidden City?
Early Ming Emperors built Taoist temples to show their power, like the Golden Hall in the Wudang Mountains. But the great achievement of the Ming Dynasty architects was that they built the great palace called the Forbidden City.
This was the palace of the Ming Dynasty emperors, in Beijing, and it was the center of the government of China. It was called the Forbidden City because nobody could go in or out without the emperor’s permission.
Around the Forbidden City
There’s a moat around the whole Forbidden City, and a wall nearly eight meters high. Like all Chinese city walls beginning in the Shang Dynasty, this wall is of rammed earth, but it also has three layers of mortared baked bricks on each side.
Inside the Forbidden City
Inside the wall, there are 980 buildings, with more than eight thousand rooms. Most of the buildings are made of wood, with brick floors. The tile roofs are painted yellow, the color of the emperors.
The Outer Court
Once you get inside the walls through the Meridian Gate, you’re in the Outer Court of the Forbidden City. The Outer Court was for big ceremonies. It has a river running across it (the Golden Water River).
After you cross the river, you go through the Gate of Supreme Harmony, and then you are in front of three halls; the middle one is the Hall of Supreme Harmony.
This was where the Ming Emperors held court – where they sat on their thrones and judged cases, met ambassadors, and did other important things.