As the largest and best-preserved ancient royal building complex in the world, the Palace Museum is a reflection of the highest architecture level in ancient China. Forbidden City, located in the center of Beijing, is the largest, best-preserved in the world. The Forbidden City used to be the imperial palace of Ming Dynasty which began to be built in 1406 AD and completed in 1420 AD with toilsome work of tens of thousands of laborers. The rectangle-shaped palace is 961 meters from south to north and 753 meters from west to east. It covers an area of 725,000 square meters and the building area is 155,000 square meters with 8,707 rooms. The wall of palace is 12 meters high and 3,400 meters long. There is a moat with the length of 52 meters around the palace. In this way, the palace becomes a strong and impregnable castle.
The building complex was laid out very precisely in accordance with a feudal code of architectural hierarchy which designated specific feature for reflecting the paramount authority and status of the emperor.
There are four gates to enter the palace, respectively named Wu Gate in the south, the main entrance, Donghua Gate in the east, Xihua Gate in the west and Shenwu Gate in the north.. The Wu Gate has five arches and the middle arch was specially constructed for the emperor. This is also the central axis of the palace and Beijing City. In the past, even though you are the high-ranking government official, you are only allowed to go across the side arch to enter the palace.
Construction of the National Palace on the basis of its layout and function is divided into the exterior and interior imperial court. Centering round Hall of Supreme Harmony, Hall of Central Harmony and Hall of Preserving Harmony, the exterior is the place where feudal rulers exercised their power and held festivals and rituals. The interior court includes Palace of Heavenly Purity, Hall of Union, Palace of Earthly Tranquility, Hall of Mental Cultivation, etc. It’s the place where the emperor and his family lived.
In 1911 the last feudal dynasty, the Qing, fell to the republic revolutionaries. The last emperor, continued to live in the palace after his abdication until expelled in 1924. On October 10, 1925, the Forbidden City became the Palace Museum and was opened to the public. Many parts of the palace were destroyed by the war, age and bad weather. After the establishment of People’s Republic of China, the palace has been renovated in large scale by the government since 1950s. In 1961, the Palace Museum was designated national key cultural relics under state protection. In 1987, the Palace Museum was selected on the World Heritage List.