Forbidden City © Peter Rowley
The impossibly majestic Forbidden City is a historical precinct situated in the heart of Beijing. Almost a city in its own right, the UNESCO World Heritage Site has been declared the largest collection of preserved ancient wooden structures in the world. The Forbidden City, called Gu Gong in Chinese, was the imperial palace during the Ming and Qing dynasties. It is the biggest and best preserved complex of ancient buildings in China, and the largest palace complex in the world. Construction of the palace complex began in 1407, and for 500 years this inner sanctum was off-limits to most of the world as the emperors lived in luxury, secluded from the masses, and surrounded by their families, court officials, servants, eunuchs, concubines, and other members of court. The Forbidden City and its centrepiece, the magnificent palace, have a permanent restoration squad that works continuously to keep the 800 buildings and 9,999 rooms inside the Forbidden City complex in perfect condition. The once Forbidden City is now open to all visitors, and is home to the Palace Museum, home to a priceless collection of ancient artefacts. The complex can get very crowded so it is best to go early in the morning to fully appreciate the layout of the place.
Opening times: Daily 8.30am - 4.30pm (November to March); 8.30am - 5pm (April to October).
Admission: CNY 60 (April to October); CNY 40 (November to March)