Ni Hao Readers!
I was visiting Beijing in May this year & since it was my first trip to China, the excitement levels were pretty high.
I am usually a well researched traveler so I had my must do list with enough free time for anything local that I might experience & like while I’m there. One of the things that topped my list was paying a visit to the much spoke about Forbidden City.
I was not sure what to expect from the name. I had various thoughts running in my head but was very curious to visit the Forbidden City. On arrival, I got an English speaking guide for 250 Yuan (You need to bargain & don’t stick to the first one who asks you) who then started giving in the juicy tidbits & history of the palace to me, her name was Fami.
The Forbidden city was an imperial palace of the Ming Dynasty till the end of Qing dynasty. It served as both the home & official political centre of the emperors. It was first built in the 14th century during the reign of Emperor Cheng Zu (Notice how I repeteadly address them as Emperor & not King? Fami told me Chineese called them emperors as there could be multiple kings but only 1 emperor meaning Emperor > King).
The interesting name “Forbidden City” is a little translation to English & comes from the fact that no one was allowed to enter or leave the palace without the emperors permission and hence Forbidden City.
The palace is humongous & took me almost 3 hours to walk through & cover all parts with Fami. The Palace is divided into 2 parts- The Outer Court & the Inner Court. The Outer court was more like an office used for Business purposes, ceremonies, executions, etc. It was more a place for the Emperor to exercise his power. The Inner Court was the residential for the royal family and all the other servers to the family lived here (Eunuchs, Cancubins, etc).
The stories that followed from Fami were nothing short of a soap opera in itself. She mentioned that besides the emperor, any man that was to enter the Inner Court of the palace where the Queen & Cancubins resided, had to undergo castration & live as Eunuchs. Insecurity much?
Also, the first born child from the Emperor would take over the throne and it could/ could not be from the Empress. Hence, the Empress would plot murders of any beautiful/ pregnant Cancubins along with the Eunuchs. The Emperor had more than 3000 Cancubins (Say what!).
Other interesting parts of the Palace were the room where the Emperor would change, rest, eat, etc. a true King sized life in that palace.
The Forbidden City will change your perspective of what Lavish can look like & how the Chinese royalty lived. Although the way women were treated in ancient Chinese history is definitely something that irked me. From the concept of Cancubins, the Empress having limited powers, the tigers depicted across the palace had male female differentiation and many many such stories that I heard. Having said that, it was great to hear from the Guide that the Chineese culture has come a long way in empowering women & she gave me some interesting current times examples.
In ancient times, uninvited entry to the Forbidden city would cost you your life, nowadays it costs Yuan 40- 60.
Getting There: Subway Tian’men East or Tian’men West station
Other Suggestions: Carry a bottle of water, wear comfortable shoes & make sure to note the things on your phone.
Xie Xie until next time 🙂
Quick Video of the Forbidden City Visit.