As the ancient imperial palace of the Ming and Qing emperors (as well as their many concubines and children), the forbidden city is one of the must-see sights of Beijing. The sprawling complex consists of almost 1000 buildings and is located conveniently at the heart of modern Beijing. Each building or hall has an extravagant name like “The Hall of Supreme Harmony” and “The Palace of Heavenly Purity” which hint at their original purpose while providing some entertainment for English visitors.
Of particular interest is the influence of the different religious beliefs throughout the ages on the development of the forbidden city. Temples and shrines throughout the palace indicate the following of Shamanism, Taoism and Buddhism by its occupants.
As well as admiring the ancient architecture, visitors can also browse through artefacts in the many small museums around the site – including some incredible ceramics, jade and bronzeware.
It takes a couple of hours to do a quick tour through the main halls, but if you want to thoroughly explore this incredible palace then a good half day is required.
Entrance ticket: 40 RMB (winter) / 60 RMB (summer)
Transport: loads of public bus options/ subway (1-10 RMB)