This week’s featured UNESCO World Heritage Site was the home of the last two great Chinese dynasties: the Ming and the Qing. Once, the Forbidden City was the center of the Chinese empire. Nobody could enter or leave without the permission of the emperor, hence the name.
The last emperor of China was kicked out of the palace in 1924, and the Forbidden City is now the Palace Museum, open to anyone who can pay the fees. Still, it continues to impress and delight visitors.
Part of the Forbidden City’s grandeur comes simply from its scale. It is the largest palace complex in the world, and took 15 years to build. When the trees were cut down for the main hall, records indicate that the massive trunks were too big for workers to move. Instead, they had to wait for floods to wash them into the river, then guide them to the city using boats.
But it’s not just the enormity of the Forbidden City that’s impressive. The entire complex is painstakingly designed and flawlessly executed. UNESCO says that “The buildings of the Forbidden City fully embody the artistic features and style of ancient Chinese palace architecture, and can be called a masterpiece in Chinese, even world, architectural history.”
To see the Forbidden City, you’ll need a passport and a Chinese visa, naturally. To familiarize yourself with the Chinese visa process, see Chinese Visa Requirements for Tourists.
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Apply for your Chinese visa today!