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<The Forbidden Palace In China ⁄ >




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The Forbidden City (Zijincheng) (also known as the Imperial Palace (Gugong) and the Palace Museum) is the largest and best preserved collection of ancient buildings in China. The entrance to the Palace is through Tian'anmen gate. Once you reach Wumen (Meridian Gate) you enter the heart of the Complex and this is the place to buy your tickets.

After passing through Meridian gate, there is a huge Palace courtyard. Hereafter, the complex is divided into two sections: the Inner Court or the living quarters, and the working area also known as the Outer Court. The Palace courtyard contains the "stream of golden water" and five bridges, all decorated with carved torches, traditional symbols of masculinity. The Outer court is guarded by a row of lions protecting the Gate of Supreme Harmony.

The Outer Court starts at the Hall of Supreme Harmony, the greatest and largest of all the halls in the complex. This was the most important building for the emperor and the place where all official business was done. Ceremonies such as the enthronement of the Crown Prince, the Emperor's birthday, imperial marriage ceremonies, and the initiation of military expeditions all took place here. The Emperor would arrive at the Hall of Supreme Harmony amidst ceremonial music, drum-beating and firecrackers. He would then take his place on the throne and listen to a reading of congratulatory messages from his palace courtiers. Civil and military officials would all kneel before him proclaiming, "Long Live Your Majesty." The building itself is decorated with thousands of dragons, the traditional symbol of the Emperor's power.

The Midway Hall of Harmony is a smaller hall where the emperor would prepare for the ceremonies to be held in the Hall of Supreme Harmony. The Midway hall was also used by the Emperor to examine agricultural instruments and discuss techniques. This was an important duty as the responsibility for a poor harvest fell largely on his shoulders.



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