More pics from my first full day of touring in Beijing. These are of the Forbidden City and the Temple of Heaven.
The Forbidden City was the Chinese Imperial Palace from the middle of the Ming dynasty to the end of the Qing. A period of about 5 centuries. It consists of almost 1000 surviving buildings and covers an area of over 700,000 square meters and is the world's largest surviving palace complex. It served as both the Imperial residence for the Emperor and his household as well as being the seat of government. At its height it housed 12,000 people within its walls, serving the Emperor and the organization of state. It took 15 years to build and required more than a million workers. It's surrounded by a wall over 7 meters high and a 52 meter wide moat.
Just inside the outer courtyard of the Forbidden City.
Wider view of the outer courtyard. That's our city tour gude, Allen, in the blue and white shirt in the foreground. He likes wearing a Beatles cap and is fluent in English, Cantonese and Mandarin. We have a national tour guide that accompanies us throughout the tour in China as well as separate city tour guides that join us in each city.
. Most of the ground and marble walkways are the original ones. There are many ornate copper and iron vats dotted around the complex which form part of the ancient firefighting system.
In ancient times, the number of mythological animals that decorated the roof corner showed the importance of the person who owned the building. This is the Hall of Supreme Harmony is the throne hall and has the maximum of nine. No other buildings in the country are allowed to have this many.
On the roof of the Hall of Supreme Harmony, there is (starting from the front) :
an immortal riding a phoenix, followed by: a dragon, a phoenix, a lion, a heavenly steed, a sea horse,
a SuAnNi, a YaYu, a XieZhi, a DouNiu and a HangShi. This is the fixed pattern for the order of the animals.
The other buildings in the Forbidden City are relatively less important and, therefore, the number of small animals on the roof is reduced. The elimination starts from the back.
View of the archway of one of the buildings
Throne room. Unfortunately we were not allowed inside any of the buildings and could only look through open doorways or through windows.
Hall of Consolation (Residence of the Empress Dowager)
A Jade sculpture just outside the doorway
A decorated wall just inside the doorway to block the view to the inside
Bedroom inside the Hall of Consolation
Room inside the Hall of Consolation
Another room inside the Hall of Consolation
Rock, tree and flower garden inside the Palace
Gazebo in the garden
The Temple of Heaven is where Ming and Qing Emperors went for annual ceremonies of prayer to Heaven for good harvest. The building is made without any nails. Each piece fits perfectly into each other.
Inside the Temple of Heaven