Day 45 - The Forbidden City

Trip Start Sep 30, 2012
Trip End Jan 09, 2013

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Flag of China  , Beijing,
Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Our hotel has a really great bar/restaurant/chill area on the 6th floor. The view is pretty cool, you look out towards Tianamen Square. The square includes the Great Hall of the People, where today the CCP was finishing its 5 day long congress to determine the new leadership for the next decade. A very interesting time to be in China.
The conference did make getting to the forbidden city, located the far side of Tianamen from our hotel, difficult to get to. Due to its historic protests, the square was sealed off to ensure no public incidents and there was a big police presence - but it was very calm and we felt super safe.
So after breakfast on the 6th floor, we headed to the forbidden city via a long walk to bypass the shutoff square.
Eventually getting to the entrance after 3 police check points, where we were pretty much ignored and let through as westerners. The last one was a serious queue but not at all intimidating.
The Forbidden City was the home of 25 emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties, initially complete in 1420. The city is very impressive in size. It is surrounded by a massive wall and moat and is made up of palaces, houses, halls and gardens - everything to ensure the emperor was self sustainable. The structures are mostly wood and around 1 000 000 workers were hired to builded it.
It seems like a Russian nesting doll. As you go through one massive gate structure, the next one emerges, and then the next and the next and the next - all including their own huge parade ground in the front - until finally you get into the inner area where the emperors family lived. On the sides of the main central line of buildings are more areas to the east and west with more palaces, houses, ect.
The way Beijing is designed the Forbidden city is located right in the middle, and then Beijing spreads out in concentric square roads outward - a very neat design.
The aesthetic design of the forbidden city is very beautiful and there is great use of colour. The architecture is what you would expect from Chinese buildings and the structures very grand. The design is repeated throughout and there is not a big difference in design from one building to the next.
We wandered through the main ceremonial structures of the city, getting through to the beautiful gardens at the South Gate. The gardens were quite different. They had lots of rock structures, old gnarly trees giving great shade, cute paths and cypress tress.
Wanting to check out the eastern side of the city we wandered back finding interesting houses and palaces showing off jade words, clocks, and treasures. As he clocks and treasure were and extra fee and we were tired we decided on just checking out the treasure display. It was very worthwhile. We saw very impressive jade statues, gold, and other ornaments and things.
We were happy leaving the Forbidden City to find that things were not as blocked around Tiamanem as on the way in, and so we made our way home long the side of the square.
The area around the square is very grand and impressive. You have Mao's mausoleum, the Great Hall of the People, a great statue to honor fallen Heros, the National China Museum and other big impressive buildings we are yet to determine. An adventure for another day.
We are very impressed with Beijing so far. The grandeur of this area is amazing and the city is very organized, well designed and clean. The streets are wide, blocks enormous, pedestrians are taken into account well and public transport looks to work nicely.
Feeling exhausted and hungry (we had not eaten lunch) we got back to the hotel, and went straight up for an early dinner.
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