Photos: China Part 1 > Beijing's Forbidden City
We are in China, and our first stop is Beijing, home to the Forbidden City and the Great Wall of China and much, much more. We are staying at a hotel right beside the Forbidden City; we just turn right, walk a little ways and turn into a lovely park that takes us to the Palace. We thought with so many people living in China that there would be people everywhere, yet we were one of five people strolling through the park and even on the main boulevard there were not as many people as we thought.
Our first stop was the Forbidden City or Palace Museum. The Palace is empty now and all of the artifacts are in museums around the world and Taipei, but as you visit the palaces, squares and pavilions you can imagine what it would have been like to live there. The palace was home to 24 emperors and their thousands of employees and family, from the 1400’s to the 1920’s when the last emperor Puyi abdicated. The Forbidden City is rectangular in shape and seems to go on forever. The City has 10 metre high walls with towers at each of its corners. Outside the walls is a 52 metre moat and four gates, South Meridian Gate, Gate of Martial Spirit in the North, East Flowery Gate, in the East and West Flowery Gate in the West.
The entrance to the palace.
John and a young soldier who is “on duty” standing guard at the entrance but “looks” otherwise; a number of the soldiers, around this tourist center of Beijing, dress in plain clothes so that it they have to quell/influence some sort of demonstration or protest, cameras won’t capture “uniforms” doing the quelling. Of course the majority of the soldiers, and there are many, are dressed in their proper Red Army uniforms. Chairman Mao's Portrait above the center of the entrance attests to the ongoing respect and prestige all Chinese continue to have for him.
The inner Golden Water River
One of the Golden Water Bridges. There are five in the square, the middle bridge was used exclusively by the Emperor and the other four for ministers, guests, dignitaries, as we moved throughout the Palace we found that the Emperors always had special doors, bridges etc for their sole use.
Gate of Supreme Harmony, I think everyone can recognize this building, from the movie The Last Emperor of China. We saw the movie but did not have any idea how large the Palace was, it is when you are standing looking at the buildings behind the gate that you realize just how immense the Palace is.
One of the many thrones used by the emperors, this one is in the Palace of Heaven Impurities; there is always a very good reason for the names...
This is one of the few pictures of the Last Emperor, Puyi
Within the Imperial garden there is a small walled in garden that contains photos of the last emperor and two of his wives, if you were not curious and didn’t venture through the door you would miss it. The emperor supported the Japanese during the Second World War, one of China’s invaders; and the only mention of the last Emperor to China are a few photos in the garden.
The last emperor of China Puyi started his reign when he was four years old and only lasted from 1908 to 1912. He was reinstated as Emperor of Manchukuo by Japan in 1934 until 1945. After the Republic of China was established in 1949 he was imprisoned for ten years, after he was released he lived in Manchuria.
Empress Dowager Cixi, she ruled China for half a century, she was a strong ruler and had great political ambitions, but love of a luxurious lifestyle and her greed for power were not admiral qualities and not good for China. She put her nephew on the throne when he was only three years old after her son Tonzhi died, when he was seventeen she locked him in one of the palaces because he wanted to modernize China, but she did not want China westernized, and because of her anti foreign policies she was a very important player in the downfall of the Quin dynasty. She also drowned a concubine or two in a well in the Imperial Garden.
A funny aside about the ruling emperors of China is that all of the emperors were paranoid about being poisoned. One emperor was a budding chemist and he created a concoction to keep him young, alas his magical potion was mercury...
The moat surrounding the walled in city.
More blog entries will be posted to follow our experiences in this wondrous country