The Forbidden City is without a doubt one of China's greatest attractions like the Terracotta Warriors and the Great Wall Of China. The Forbidden City is a massive palace complex that once governed what at times was the largest empire in the world. It lays that the center of the Imperial City of Beijing and is surrounded by opulent and stunning imperial gardens and temples like the Imperial Ancestral Temple. It was constructed 600 years ago and is today one of China's greatest national treasures.


History of The Forbidden City

The Forbidden City was made to be the Chinese imperial palace and the winter residence during the Ming dynasty. It was built between 1406-1420 lasted from the Ming dynasty to the collapse of the weak Qing dynasty in 1924. In its time it survived as the seat of imperial power for over 500 years.

  • Date Built: 1406-1420
  • Palace Museum: It Has Been A Palace Museum Since 1925
  • Status: World Heritage Site (Declared 1987)

The complex is massive and is reputed by some websites to be the largest palace complex in the world. In actuality, that is false, it is the fourth-largest, the larger three are also all in China. The Forbidden City is made up of a massive 980 buildings over 72 hectares. The palaces are constructed in traditional Chinese palatial architecture and are today the largest collection of ancient wooden structures of anywhere in the world.

During the colonial period, it was occupied by foreign powers twice. Once in 1860 during the Second Opium War by Anglo-French forces. And again in 1900 during the Boxer Rebellion by a host of foreign powers of which America was one.

Related: 25 Images Of Strange Things We Can Only Find In China

Larger Palace Complexes

  • Zhongnanhai: In China, Size 610 Ha
  • Summer Palace: In China, Size 290 Ha
  • Chengde Mountain Resort: In China, 560 Ha

About The Forbidden City

In Chinese, the Forbidden City is known as "Gugong" meaning "The Former Palace". While the palaces listed above may be larger, the Forbidden City is the best-preserved imperial palace in China. The Forbidden City is located in the heart of Beijing right next to Tiananmen Square and is easily accessed by metro. The City itself is enclosed by citadel walls.

  • Not Forbidden: Despite Its Name, The Forbidden City Is No Longer Forbidden (Including Foreigners, Some 19 Million People Visited It In 2019)

Now bustling with tourists, it was once bustling with palace guards, servants, officials, concubines, and eunuchs.

Despite its age, many of the buildings seen are not that old. As they are made of wood, fire was always a constant hazard. Many of the buildings were built by the Qing dynasty in the 19th century. To counter the fire hazard, there are enormous brass water vats scattered everywhere through the site.

  • Fun Fact: The Great Wall Of China Cannot Be Seen From Space - That Is A Common Myth

In the past, ordinary people would have been severely punished for entering the premises. That being said it wasn't possible for them to get near it, as the Forbidden City was surrounded by the Imperial City with its massive walls.

Visiting The Forbidden City

Visiting the Forbidden City is easy enough to do in a day. While there are hundreds of buildings only a few are of special attraction. These include the ceremonial halls and parade grounds as well as the labyrinth of courtyards and halls.

  • Entry: Today Tourists Enter Through The Meridian Gate - Once A Gate Only For The Emperor


Since 2018 is has been possible for tourists to climb the Forbidden City's wall next to the Meridian Gate. In fact around three-quarters of the city's 2.5 miles of walls can be climbed.

It is very straightforward and cheap to visit the Forbidden City. Tickets can be booked online here.


  • Cost Of Entry: $9.99

Related: 20 Incredible Sights To See In China (That Aren’t The Great Wall)

The cost of getting a guided tour is also affordable. One can get guided tours of the Forbidden City itself as well as other major attractions here.

  • Temple of Heave Ticket Cost: $108 Per Person
  • Forbidden City Ticket Cost: $49 Per Person

Today, nothing in the 600-year-old Forbidden City is closed.

Opening Hours

  • High Season: 1st April to 31st October Open 8.30 am to 17.00 pm, (Last Entry 16.10 pm)
  • Low Season: 1st November to 31st March Hours Open 8.30 am to 16.00 pm, (Last Entry 15.30 pm)
  • Closed: Closed Mondays (Except For Chinese National Holiday)

The Forbidden City was once the beating heart of one of the largest and most powerful empires in the world. Today it is one of the key national treasures of the world's most populous nation (so expect crowds when there). It really is one of the must-see attractions in China and a must for those visiting Beijing and the Great Wall.

Next: 20 Thoughts Every Foreigner Has When They Visit China For The First Time