The surprising Forbidden City

by Dave from The Longest Way Home ~ March 23rd, 2008. Updated on November 26th, 2010. Published in: Travel blog » China.

Travel Journal Overview: Surprising me once more, I found the Forbidden city to be enchanting. One last glimpse of an ancient past before moving on.

Elaborate rooftop in the Forbidden City, Beijing, China

Elaborate rooftop in the Forbidden City, Beijing, China (click to enlarge)

The Forbidden City a tourist nightmare or really good?

It was that history I thought about at the entrance into the fabled Chinese Forbidden City. At first I found the place as expected, a typical government run standing museum to the past. The main outer courtyard or Imperial City was large, spread out into empty spaces and quite bland. Consisting of 980 surviving buildings, none had a serious pull you in factor.

Exploring the history of a real life ancient city

One of the nine Dragons in the forbidden city, China

One of the nine Dragons in the forbidden city, Beijing, China (click to enlarge)

It was walking through one on the very many streets within this city within a city that I began to appreciated it more. I was in the inner city where Puyi, the last Emperor of China lived during the new days of the Chinese Republic in the early 20th century. Here the city became more closed in. The area had an almost lived in look.

Large Murals like the Nine Dragons Screen in front of the Palace of Tranquil Longevity gave the impression that small children might once had delighted in playing in the small courtyard there.

The Forbidden City is how many historical sites should be viewed

Indeed the whole area was full of little ally ways, small buildings, decorative murals and lavishly adorned buildings with enchanting names. The Palace of Heavenly Purity, the Palace of Earthly Tranquillity, the Hall of Mental Cultivation and the Gate of Divine Might all brought a unique serenity to the city.

Inner Gardens where slow waters ran into landscaped ponds filled with large colourful goldfish were mesmerizing. To think that people actually lived in such a magical looking place. It made other palaces around the world look normal, and to and extent dull. Here there was the essence of another world, one that was being walled in as an inner city within an imperial city within a modern city.

Don’t miss the Forbidden City

Leaving the area I truly felt like it was a place not to be missed no matter how hurried you are. I had spent a full day there and had sacrificed a brief attempt at trying to find another laptop store.

With 120,000RMB bulging out of my pocket I was fast imagining myself losing out and having to convert it into dollars or Euro. Shanghai would be my next and final stop. A place to try buying a laptop, come to terms with the end, and to catch a plane.

Not to mention, it was the end of my overland journey…

Some related links on this website that  you might like: (including a lot more photographs from China)

Stories: Surviving the Riots in Tibet

Stories: Watching the Chinese Army Move into Lhasa

Resources: All about getting a Tibet Permit / Visa

Resources: How to Guide – Nepal to Tibet Overland

China Travel Guide

Liked this post?

Never miss a post!

Enter your email address:


Feel free to comment on another post or contact me directly. If you share this post on social media it would be nice of you!