It’s bloody huge. It’s really huge. Did I tell you it’s huge. If you manage to not get lost in the palace, figuring out your way between thousands of rooms, kudos to you. There are 9999.5 rooms in the Forbidden city, all of which are not open to visitors.
The Forbidden palace is on every China Traveler’s agenda after The Great Wall. I’ve read a couple of books on Empress Dowager Tzu Hsi who was the last Empress of China. Since then I’ve been fascinated by this place.
We went in early and we expected the ticket counters to have long queues but seemed like almost everyone was either with a tour guide or had purchased tickets beforehand. We went in but not before buying an electronic guide which not only looked very pretty and snazzy but was very helpful.
The first thing we noticed was the crowd, there were so many people inside. I started thinking about our vacation pictures with herds of people in it. But you can’t really complain when you’re part of the same crowd now, can you? But you go further and the palace splits into 3 sections, that’s when the crowds start fizzling out.
The electronic guide did a good job of explaining the significance of each structure. All the rooms and halls have beautiful, poetic names (Hall of Supreme Harmony, The Hall of Central Peace, Palace of Earthly Tranquility, Palace of Heavenly Purity, Palace of Earthly Tranquility, Hall of Mental Cultivation ) and distinct purposes.
China had such a rich, fascinating and vibrant history that I feel one cannot appreciate any site fully if you don’t know the history.