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Ancient China

The Forbidden City

History for Kids >> Ancient China

The Forbidden City was the palace of the Chinese emperors during the Ming and Qing dynasties. It is located in the heart of Beijing, the capital city of China, and is the largest ancient palace in the world.



When was it built?

The Forbidden City was built under the orders of the powerful Yongle Emperor of the Ming Dynasty between the years 1406 to 1420. More than one million people worked on the construction of the expansive palace. The best materials were brought in from all over China including specially made "golden" bricks, logs of the rare Phoebe zhennan trees, and blocks of marble. When the palace was completed, the Yongle Emperor moved the capital of the empire to Beijing city.

How big is the Forbidden City?

The Forbidden City is enormous. It covers an area of 178 acres that include 90 palaces with courtyards, 980 total buildings, and at least 8,700 rooms. The total floor space is over 1,600,000 square feet. Imagine if it was your job to clean that floor. The emperor had an army of servants, however, to take care of his palace and all the people that lived there.

Features

The Forbidden City also served as a fortress to protect the emperor and his family. It is surrounded by a 26 feet high wall and a 170 feet wide moat. Each corner of the palace has a tall guard tower where guards used to keep watch for enemies and assassins.

Each side of the palace has a gate with the main gate being the Meridian Gate to the south. The other gates include the Gate of Devine Might to the north, the East Glorious Gate, and the West Glorious Gate.


An ancient painting of the walls of the Forbidden City

Layout

The layout of the Forbidden City followed many Ancient Chinese rules of design. The main buildings all were aligned in a straight line from north to south. There are two main sections to the palace: the outer court and the inner court.

People lined up in the courtyard of the palace

Special Symbolism

The Forbidden City was designed using Ancient Chinese symbolism and philosophy. Here are a few examples: Is it still there today?

Yes, the Forbidden City still lies at the center of Beijing city. Today it is the Palace Museum and houses thousands of artifacts and pieces of art from Ancient China.

Interesting Facts about the Forbidden City Take a ten question quiz on the Forbidden City questions page.

For more information on the civilization of Ancient China:

Overview
Timeline of Ancient China
Silk Road
The Great Wall
Forbidden City
Terracotta Army
Geography of Ancient China
Inventions of Ancient China
Glossary and Terms

Dynasties
Major Dynasties
Zhou Dynasty
Han Dynasty
Tang Dynasty
Song Dyanasty
Ming Dynasty

Culture
Daily Life in Ancient China
Religion
Mythology
Numbers and Colors
Legend of Silk
Chinese Calendar
Festivals
Civil Service
Chinese Art
Clothing

People
Emperor Qin
Genghis Khan
Kublai Khan
Marco Polo
Sun Tzu
Zheng He

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