Forbidden City

Forbidden City

Arguably the most iconic sight in Beijing, the Forbidden City stands majestically in the centre of the city, the symbolic heart of Beijing. The Forbidden City's history dates back to the early 15th century and was constructed under the direction of the Ming Dynasty's Yongle Emperor as a residence for the Emperors after the capital was moved to Beijing.

From 1420 to 1912, the Forbidden City was the imperial seat of the Ming and Qing Emperors. Access to the palace grounds was prohibited to all but members of the royal court, on punishment of death, hence why the city is 'forbidden'. After the abdication of Puyi - the last Emperor of China - the Forbidden City was open to the public and in 1925, the Palace Museum was established within its grounds. In 1987, the Forbidden City was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Forbidden City covers an area of 180 acres and consists of 980 buildings. The style of the Forbidden City is typical of Chinese palatial architecture, with bilateral symmetry, construction from wood and use of gold and red imperial colours. There is also a clear reference to dragons in the Forbidden City, with the dragon representing the Emperor.  

There are many buildings located in the Forbidden City with some of the most famous including the Hall of Supreme Harmony, the largest structure in the Forbidden City used for ceremonial occasions; the Hall of Mental Cultivation, from where the Emperors ruled; and the Hall of Preserving Harmony, where the Emperor would hold banquets for esteemed guests. There is also an Imperial Garden located within the Forbidden City, which was a private retreat for the Emperor's family and is typical of Chinese garden style.

The Forbidden City, like Buckingham Palace in the UK, is the central heart of Beijing's royal history in China and is at the forefront of Chinese imperial architecture in Beijing.

Top tours visting the Forbidden City

16 Days from

China is a land of many wonders – ancient and modern, natural and man-made. This hugely popular tour is a comprehensive journey through China’s most iconic sights from the magnificent Great Wall to the mighty Yangtze River.

14 Days from

Savour the natural grandeur of the Three Gorges on a relaxing Yangtze River Cruise – just one part of a wonderful tour that also includes China’s enthralling cities of Shanghai, Xian, Beijing, and of course the unforgettable Giant Pandas of Chengdu.

18 Days from

From international Shanghai and the pandas of Chengdu to the imperial highlights of Beijing and all the dramatic landscapes in between, relish the historical, cultural and natural delights of China on this comprehensive trip.

View all Forbidden City tours

Other places to see nearby

At a glance

Time difference: GMT +8 Hours
Flight time: Approx 10 hours
Visa Required: Yes
Currency: Yuan
Tel Code: 010
Official Language: Mandarin
Religion: Buddhism
Airlines:  British Airways, Emirates , Etihad Airways , Air China , Cathay Pacific , Qatar Airways , Finnair , KLM , Air France , Turkish Airlines


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