Back in the days of the emperors, entering the forbidden city would cost you your head. Today, it will cost you about 10 bucks.
This is the main entrance for tourists today.
Here are a few factoids about the Forbidden City provided by China Highlights Tours.
- It is the world’s biggest ancient palace.
- It is considered to be among the world’s top 5 most important palaces.
- China’s most popular single site tourist attraction.
- The structure is almost 600 years old.
- Home of dynastic clans for 500 years.
- A million articles are considered national heritage.
- 1987 UNESCO World Heritage List
- The largest collection of ancient wooden structures in the world.
That last factoid is important because they will not allow a person to take a lighter inside the city. You see, the brits occupied Beijing and out of some depraved idea of diplomacy, threatened to burn it down. Whatever their demands were, the Chinese agreed, and the fantastic ancient palace survived. Today, you are not allowed to have a lighter or matches past this gate.
The way to make sure that the hall you are looking at is more or less important than the last one you looked at is the count the creatures on the corners of the roofs. The more creatures, the more important the building.
I will admit that the surface you were expected to tread was restored nicely, but some of it, like where you might want to go to get a good photo, were tread before you by emperors and Eunuchs for 600 years.
After a nice long visit, I started wondering where the Sacred Parking Lot of the Divine Air Conditioned Automobile was to take you to the Fabulous Restaurant of the Sumptuous Hot Pot. It takes a long time to visit the Forbidden City, and worth every minute.
That afternoon we got a small look at the real Beijing
The next day we visited the Summer palace, with the Garden of Virtue and Harmony. Great names for these places!
Now it was time for us to get to the Beijing Capitol Airport for our flight to Xian. Our guide was fantastic, again. He sort of treated us like novice flyers Getting us to the check-in line, but that was his job. We were the first to check in. My bag went through a scanner and WHOO WHOO WHOO. FLASHING LIGHTS. ALARMS! Mary Ann asked me “did you do that?” “No I swear, there is nothing in my bag”. Our guide turned to me and asked “did you pack a lighter?” “In my check in bag? Yeah I guess I did.” The alarms kept screaming WHOO WHOO WHOO (really loudly) and the flashing red lights kept spinning until I retrieved my bag, opened it, dug through it and finally found the extremely dangerous lighter of the ignorant foreigner. By now, the line behind us was 15 deep, and everyone was wondering how I could be so ignorant. IN A CHECKED BAG! Welcome to China. I learned later that one major city in China is about to require a person REGISTER a lighter!
Well, we made it to Xian. The next post will be about the incredible Terracotta Warriors. Stay tuned. Share and comment please!