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故宫Gugong (the Forbidden City), the imperial palace of the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) emperors for the last 500 odd years, is today popularly known by one of its old name 紫禁城, literally -- Purple Forbidden City, but translations usually leave out the word "Purple" (the imperial color) for more dramatic effect.  It is no longer forbidden, however, and tourists now stroll through the public museum in waves. While I was there, the entire complex, as well as other well-known structures such 天坛Tiantan (The Temple of Heaven), were under major renovation. Everything will be repainted.  So that when you get there for the August 8, 2008 Beijing Olympics, they will look as fresh as its inauguration day.

Gugong Palace has its beginings during the Ming dynasty. The fourth son of the dynastic founder, 朱棣Zhudi usurped the throne and, to the great dismay of the 南京Nanjing citizens, decided to move the capital to Beijing. On the center of that Beijing city, and to the east of the razed Mongol palace was the ground for the new palace - a secretive Forbidden City within the mighty walls of Beijing City. The architect was 蒯祥Yixiang, a former carpenter. His layout for the Forbidden City was a rectangular labyrinth, with the walls lined along the 4 polar directions and a moat surrounding the palace. Gugong Palace was a characteristically chinese modular design - one large set repeated hierarchically. From heaven, it looks like a computer chip.

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NEW -- July 21, 2010

The beautiful city of Suzhou crisscrossed with narrow water canals

Region: 北京Beijing

故宫 (紫禁城)图片Gugong Palace (The Forbidden City) Pictures

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image of an old man looking toward Shanghai\'s 浦东 Pudong skylineShanghai\'s 浦东 Pudong skyline

上海Shanghai: Today, the financial center of China as well as one of its cultural centers. Fashion lovers, misfits, intelectuals, dreamers, refugees, outcasts, and outlaws alike rush to Shanghai for its haven and riches. You come to Shanghai not for any historical attractions, but rather for the city itself -- its interactions of all things good and bad that generate hot gossips.

image of Pingyao streetimage of the main gate tower to the Chang family's compound and gardern

The compounds and manors of the extreme wealthy in 山西Shanxi's small towns and villages. See the old town of 平遥Pingyao with well-preserved Ming and Qing city wall and street layout.

上海 shanghai skyline苏州园林 suzhou gardernUygur lady and tourist boat in 天池 Tianchi

Selected pictures from my 3-month travel through China during the summer of 2006.

image of Tulufan's Emin MinaretPortriat of a Uygur girl in 二堡乡 Erbaoxiang

See 吐鲁番Tulufan's well-known attractions -- 苏公塔Sugonta (Emin Minaret), 高昌城Gaochang Ruins, and 火焰山Huoyan Shan (Flaming Mountains).

image of people on a boat in the Three Gorges area of the Changjiang river area

See the 三峡Three Gorges of the 长江Changjiang (Yangzi River) between 重庆市Chongqing city and 宜昌Yichang.

image of Great Wallimage of Great Wall

The 万里长城Great Wall from the shining 渤海Bohai sea to the Gobi desert west — 山海关Shanhaiguan (Shanhai Pass) to 嘉峪关Jiayuguan (Jiayu Pass).

image of Tiananmen gateimage of the seventeen arch bridge in Yiheyuan

Walk through Beijing's great attractions -- 故宫Gugong (The Palace Museum), 天坛Tiantan (Temple of Heaven), 天坛天安门广场Tiananmen Square, 颐和园Yiheyuan (Summer Palace).

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Construction of Gugong Palace began during the fourth year of his 永乐Yongle reign (1406), and completed about 14 years later. But during its long wooden life, several fire (often caused by lightning) had done serious damage to it, so that some buildings were rebuilt during the 24 reigns. Many more buildings were also added to the Forbidden City as each new emperor wanted something for themselves or their favorites. Thus, by the end of Qing (1911), Gugong had over 9000 rooms in 720,000 square meters of ground area. Small wonder it is the largest palace complex in the world today — literally a city.  

Travelogues and travel notes.

Travel Information

Getting There:

故宫Gugong (The Palace Museum) is at the heart of the city. On the map its rectangular layout, along with the 天安门广场Tiananmen Square, took up much of the space. You will see that many buses can get near there. You can enter the palace through its north and south entrance. The most popular is the south entrance, which is through the 天安门Tiananmen Gate, then through the 午门Wumen Gate ( Meridian Gate ) -- the main gate to the palace. If you don't like the crowd or to wait on line, the north entrance - 神武门Shenwumen (Divine Martial Gate) -- is a better option.  Plus the north has the 景山Jingshan hills and the closer moat to look at while you wait.

Entrance Ticket:

60 Yuan (Summer 2006). 50 Yuan (Autumn 2009).