Nǐ hǎo - Forbidden City in Beijing

14:51 Alyson Tart 0 Comments

We spent the last week cut-off from the social world. No blogger, no you-tube, no facebook. No, we weren't on an island without access to the internet. We were in China. Government control of the internet kept me from keeping you all posted as we traveled along, but no worries, now you'll hear it all!

Our first stop on our China tour was Beijing; we went straight from the airport to the Forbidden City. This made sure we both a) fit in as much sightseeing as we could with my short time there and b) didn't go check into the hotel and pass out.

One of the most interesting things to me about sightseeing in China was all the domestic tourists. Nearly everyone we saw was Chinese. It was inspiring, the pride they had in their history and the excitement they all felt at visiting their capital city and historic sites. It made me ashamed to say I had never visited Washington D.C.

Back to the Forbidden City - this was the imperial residences of the emperors from the Ming and Qing dynasties, built in the late 15th century. On nearly 200 acres, the imperial residence houses 90 palaces and over 8,500 rooms.

We started off at the entrance, by Tiananmen Square. Here you walk through the Gate of Heavenly Peace to the Meridian Gate, through the outer court, which finally brought us to the inner court. As you go through each of the gates, you'll notice there are 3 doorways within each gate. One for the emperor, one for the high lords, and one for just the plain old lords.

A perk of off-season travel is smaller crowds, but a downside is renovations. So upon our entrance to the Inner Court, we found the Palace of Heavenly Peace covered in scaffolding. So we continued by admiring all the unique details of the surrounding buildings, from the little statues adorning each roof (the more statues, the more important), the carvings of figures in the marble, the old stones run down by the millions of visitors whose footsteps have covered these same paths.

After that, we headed to the gardens surrounding the palace. During our visit, we got to see some of the most beautiful cherry blossoms, making every garden beautiful and making me pause with my camera to catch a picture.

Finally, we found ourselves back out on the streets of Beijing, confronted by the real world and made to leave behind our imaginations of how the city used to be.

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