The Wooden Imperial Palace Steeped In History: Forbidden City16 September 2019
Home to the world’s largest, oldest, and best-preserved group of wooden structures, the Forbidden City is made up of 980 structures and is located in the heart of Beijing. It was used from the Ming Dynasty throughout the end of Qing Dynasty.
Spreading across 720,000 square meters of land, Forbidden City is known to have served a total of 24 Chinese emperor. Incorporating typical Chinese architectural details, Forbidden City is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1987.
Back in the day, it was forbidden to enter the imperial palace without the permission of the emperor - hence the name. In the beginning, the emperor and his family lived among the people, but as various conflicts emerged among the two parties, the imperial palace was shut down to the public in 1600s and the palace was named as the Forbidden City.
Forbidden City lost its importance in the political arena when the last Qing Emperor Puyi was dethroned during the 1911- 12 revolution. Forbidden to the people of China for hundreds of years, the palace was reopened for public visits in 1925.
Operated as a museum today, Forbidden City is among the most-visited of its kind in the world. Among over million works of art displayed inside are paintings, traditional artworks, sculptures, and imperial treasures.
All of the structures in Forbidden City were built upon stone blocks that insulate the soil moisture. The wooden columns rising out of the stone blocks to support the ceilings were transported from south of China.
Among the 980 structures in Forbidden City, only three draw the most attention; Hall of Supreme Harmony, Hall of Central Harmony, and Hall of Preserving Harmony. The largest among them all, Hall of Supreme Harmony was the primary palace.
The largest surviving wooden structure in the country, Hall of Supreme Harmony was constructed during Ming Dynasty. During Qing Dynasty, it was destroyed by fire seven times. The latest reconstruction dated back to 1695-1697.
For centuries, this complex symbolized the conflict between the empire and its people, and now it’s a museum visited by millions of people every year. Primarily made out of wood, this structure will continue to be a center of attention for many years to come.