Sunday, April 7, 2013

Tiananmen Square & the Forbidden Palace

One of the great adventures of Jamie’s parents’ visit in October was going through the Forbidden City in Beijing to view the Emperor’s Palace and the grounds around it.  

We started at Tiananmen Square and looked towards Mao’s tomb.  Then, we start our long walk through The Forbidden City.  Once we got to the area where tickets are purchased, we were approached by a young woman who wondered if we were interested in hiring her as a guide.  I have learned the value of a guide, especially in China where many things have not been translated into English.  We have done this several times before and have not been disappointed.  It doesn’t cost very much and especially at The Forbidden Palace, we would have missed a majority of the meaning, symbolism, and meaning behind this historic place.

The palace is a series of courtyards and the closer a person was to the Emperor, the more courtyards the person could pass through.  Meaning, a commoner like myself would not have gotten very far!

Standing outside the Forbidden Palace.  Tiananmen Square and Mao's tomb are in the background:

Mao's Tomb
Entrance to the Forbidden City & Palace:

Morning military exercises.
The first courtyard:

This is where we bought tickets.  Just a few other people there.
Second courtyard:
We entered through the second set of gates
(using the doors that had been reserved for only the emperor)
and now inside another courtyard.
According to feng shui, it is best to have water in
front (near the entrance) and a mountain behind.
This water was man-made to give the palace
the best feng shui.
The tile and paint have been restored in this area.
Getting ready to walk through another
gate and into an inner courtyard.
This is one of the lions flanking this part
of the temple. This is the male lion and his paw
is resting on a large pearl.
Getting closer to the royal family's living quarters.
Looking back at the bridges over the canal.
Our guide told us that there were something like 15 layers
of brick in this area to prevent people from tunneling
in to the palace. The palace grounds are
surrounded by a large moat.
See the figures on the right-hand side lining
the top of the roof? The more the figures, the more important
the building (or the people in it) the buildings in the
inner courtyards had more figures than
the ones in outer most buildings, (or something like that!)

People used to think the roofs appeared
to be covered in gold, but
they are actually yellow glazed tiles.

Lots of grounding wires for lightening strikes.
Lightening has caused fires a few times at the palace.
These pots were used for water as a means
of fire prevention in ancient times.

Across the moat (and the street) at the
back of the palace, is the Temple of Heaven.
It is on a man-made mountain which fulfills
the other part of the proper feng shui
for the palace (water in the front,
mountain/earth) in the back.
Going closer to the royal family's living quarters.

A single piece of stone.  Amazing!

Yeah, a picture of the two of us!
Me with my princesses

One of the rooms used by the emperor.

One of the emperors preferred using this bedroom,
located in one of the side wings of the palace as opposed
to the big bedroom in the middle of the Forbidden City.
Looking down one of the side alleys that
would lead to the living quarters for the emperor's
concubines or the family of the previous
emperor (depending on which side of the palace).
The building behind is where the
emperor would study.  It looks out into
a beautiful garden.
Each rectangle shows a scene from a story
and uses small pebbles to make the design.
The tree with interlocking branches.
The next picture explains its significance.

Repairing the roof of the maids' quarters.
Even their buildings were one level below
the emperor's bedroom to show the status
of the emperor and that they were "beneath" him.
A bed covering in the emperor's bedroom
(the big bedroom in the center of the palace).
Royal bedroom.
This stone was taken from the Taihu Lake
area between Suzhou (where we live) and
Wuxi (where Jamie works), which is many
miles from Beijing.
EBean supervising the restoration work.
A view of the Temple of Heaven.
It seems that most excursions include some ice-cream!

No comments:

Post a Comment