Jewel in the crown
For those who visit the Forbidden City it seems almost unbelievable that something so enormous could remain hidden for five centuries. The complex is now making up for lost time, and the secret world of emperors, harems and eunuchs is visited by some 40,000 visitors a day. Nonetheless, the grandeur of the Forbidden City remains; since 1987 it has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is maintained accordingly. There’s always some part that is undergoing renovations or construction. Taking in all the riches of the halls, galleries, squares and palaces will take at least a day. Even for a general impression we recommend at least several hours for your visit. Your patience and stamina will be rewarded. If the names are anything to go by, the pleasure is never-ending: after the entrance you’ll encounter the Hall of Supreme Harmony, then the Gate of Heavenly Purity, the Palace of Earthly Tranquillity, the Hall of Union, and much more besides. Those who brave the entire extent of the city will also see the Imperial Garden which gives access to even more palaces on both sides. This part of the Forbidden City, often overlooked, is a great place for meandering through a maze of galleries, gates and courtyards.
The Guanmiao Pavilion in Jingshan Park
Past the Gate of Divine Might, at the northern entrance to the Forbidden City, is Jingshan Park. This artificial hill was created from the huge amounts of soil excavated to build the 52-metre wide and 6-metre deep moat around the Forbidden City. It is a great place to overlook the roofs of the city from pavilions with names like Beautiful View and Accumulated Fragrance.