The Forbidden City - Be An Emperor For A Day
Off limits for 500 years, the Forbidden City in the heart of Beijing was finally opened to the masses in 1949. This is a huge complex and China's most spectacular architectural structure. It was home to 24 emperors in two dynasties, the Ming and the Qing.
It's an amazing walk around...
... temples and halls...
... gates and passageways...
... towers and lookouts...
... terraces and balustrades...
...courtyards, gardens, plazas...
...the same paths that were walked by Emperors more than 600 years ago...
Some Forbidden City Trivia for Kids
Chinese Lions guard the entrances of Halls. Always in pairs you find them in the front, guess which one is the male, which one is the female?
You have to look at the paws, the Male Lion always has a ball under his paw, the Female Lion has a Lion Cub.
What's up with those huge pots in front of the temples?
These Bronze Cauldrons used to be filled with water in case of fire.
What are the figures on the roofs?
These are the Roof Guardians which were supposed to protect the building from fire and evil spirits. The higher the number of roof guardians the more important the building and its occupant.
There's 9,999 rooms in the Forbidden City, so needless to say, it would take a few trips to see even half of them, but don't worry, not all of them are open to the public and at some point or another, there is always maintenance and refurbishment work going on.
And as impressive and overwhelming as the entire complex was, the kids weren't that impressed with the crowds, the heat and the sheer size of the whole thing, after a while, everything started to look the same to them...
Specially if you come in the summer, which is when most families take advantage of the long vacation, the heat presents quite a challenge. If you are taking a tour, make sure your tour guide knows that long explanations in the sun about all the history, earthquakes and fires are not necessary.
If the kids start acting up, here's plan B. I recommend keeping it as short as possible and heading over to Beijing's Beihai Park, which is only a short walk from the Palace. Here, you can unwind, rent one of those pedal boats and go around the lake for a half-hour or so. It really is a beautiful park:
Check out our Beijing Map for this and other Beijing Attractions' locations.
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