Forbidden City, Beijing, China
The most important site for any visitor to China’s capital, Beijing, is certainly the Forbidden City (Gugon Bowuguan), a vast complex of palaces, halls, courtyards and gardens to the north of Tiananmen Square, through the famous Gate of Heavenly Peace, a Chinese icon. Must sees within the complex are the Hall of Supreme Harmony (Taihedian), Ningshou Gong Huayuan, Leshoutang, Nei Ting, the inner palace, and the Imperial Gardens.
The complex was built during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644 AD) and was the imperial residence until the end of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1912 AD). It was designated a World Heritage Site in 1987 and is referred to by UNESCO as the world’s largest collection of ancient wooden buildings (980 still remain). It is completely surrounded by a wall (approximately 25 feet high) and a moat.
The Outer Court, the southern section, was used for ceremonial purposes, while the Inner Court, to the north, was the living area of the Emperor. There is much symbolism in the design of each structure, from the colors of the roof tiles to the types of creatures depicted on the roof edges.
The Imperial Gardens are further to the north of the complex and consist of many paths and pavilions designed to encourage serenity and solitude while contemplating the glory of nature.