Sunday/ The Forbidden City

This China Daily newspaper article puts everything nicely in perspective : the Forbidden City lies on a north-south axis from the Bird’s Next stadium down to the Temple of Heaven.   (Click once on the picture to enlarge it).     It also reports that Beijing will speed up the protection of its cultural sites over the next 5 years even though it already applied for World Cultural Heritage status.  (Kind of shocking that these sites do not already have that status).

These sites are very large, each occupying dozens of large city blocks, so one needs walking shoes !   I managed to get to the Forbidden City, Tian’anmen Square and the Temple of Heaven in about 6 hrs and then called it a day.

These two pictures are right by the JW Marriott hotel, the Da Wang Lu station on Line 1 and the Deutsche Bank Towers right next to the China Central shopping mall and Starbucks Coffee.    In the day the trains are crowded but I preferred to deal with that instead of being stuck in a taxi in traffic in the city!    In 2010, the Beijing Subway delivered over 1.6 billion rides, including a single-day record of 6.82 million on March 4, 2011.   All but two of Beijing Subway’s 14 lines were built within the past decade.

The next set of pictures are from the Forbidden City.   The Forbidden City was the Chinese imperial palace during the Ming dynasty and for some 500 years.   It’s a world-famous place along with the Palace of Versailles in France, Buckingham Palace in England, the White House in the U.S. and the Kremlin in Russia.   It is located in the middle of Beijing  and now houses what is called the Palace Museum.   The front entrance with Chairman Mao’s portrait is free and opens into a big plaza.   Inside vendors sell China flags, maps and food and drink.  (Next picture)  200 years ago the price for access to the Forbidden City would have been immediate death but now it is only 60RMB ($US10) !

This is the Hall of Supreme Harmony (Taihe Dian) – the grandest hall in the palace and the largest wooden structure in China.   There are 11 gargoyle-like creatures on the curved corner of the roof,  the most of any of the halls, indicating is importance.

This plate is on one of the many doors inside the gates in the complex.

The next few pictures are from Tian’anmen Square to the immediate south of the Forbidden City.   Tiananmen Square is the largest city square in the world (440,000 m² – 880m by 500m).   It has great cultural significance as it was the site of several important events in Chinese history.    My pictures below in sequence are of the China Museum, the Monument to the People’s Heroes and a monument in front of Mao’s Mausoleum.

The final few pictures are from the ‘Temple of Heaven’ park .. a large park with open spaces and several structures.   It was constructed from 1406 to 1420 and visited by emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties and used for annual ceremonies to pray to Heaven for good harvests.

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