The (Not So) Forbidden City

On 24 October 2015, the North China Electric Power University treated me and my colleagues and other university faculty to a lovely day trip to see Tienanmen Square and the Forbidden City. The day was long and tiring, but well worth it because I got the chance to walk where emperors walked. I learned about ancient Feng Shui building principles, how the medieval Chinese built the Forbidden City, and other fun stuff. From the 15th century CE to 1912, the Chinese government and emperor was seated at the Forbidden City, which is why it was called the Forbidden City. Also, fun fact: most of the center gates and stairways  are closed off (visible, but inaccessible) because only the emperor and his wife could use those. The tradition has stuck, with all but one or two center gates sealed off and impassible by us lowly peasants. Of course, I was too busy snapping photos and wandering around is a history loving daze to stay close to my tour group for the entire hour we we’re there, but I had a great time!!
We also went to Silk Street, which is one part mall, one part flea market, one part bargaining for lower prices, and all parts fun. I saw more foreigners today than I have in the entire two months since I’ve been in Baoding, so I was a bit freaked out. I heard at least five different languages and saw people from India, the Middle East, Britain, Scandinavia, and France today. In short; my day was great. Really a once in a lifetime thing.


  1. Wow! I saw a big exhibit of the Forbidden City at the museum last year but it sure doesn’t compare to the real thing… hard to believe how HUGE it is, and I haven’t even been there myself. Certainly a city in a city. Here’s an interesting tidbit on Chinese Imperial art, when I saw that dragon stonework photo- did you know that only Imperial dragons were allowed to be depicted with five toes on them? Every other dragon art you’ll find in China (at least from when China was a monarchy, I assume things are much more relaxed today) only has three or four toes.


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