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China, Studies: Forbidden City – The Residence of the Last Chinese Emperor

Published: 23.1.2016
To conclude the great journey we did with T and P we intended to see two place. We had seen those with B already yet they were still interesting enough for us to see them again. First, it was the Summer Palace (Yiheyuan颐和园), a romantic place we idyllically remembered for its winter atmosphere. In summer, however, the atmosphere was much worse. The second place in our trip would be the Forbidden City, Gugong in Chinese. It means “the Old Palace”.

It had been a while since me and B saw it for the last time, again in winter (during the Spring Festival – Chinese New YEar). It was deserted. Everybody was at home with his family. Only we walked through Beijing in winter coat, taking on everything we could for it was 15 degrees below zero outside. It was unforgettable experience to see the legendary Gugong, a palace complex we had learned so much about.

Forbidden City

It was summer then. 40 degrees outside were good enough to boil eggs. Still we dragged T and P yet to another tour of Beijing. Gugong has been located right in the center since the 15th century. The structures you can see today were built in the 18th century. The adjective “forbidden” was given to it because only persons belonging to the royal family or were directly working for the emperor were allowed in. And because the emperor lived in Beijing, it was forbidden to raise buildings taller than the palaces in the Forbidden City. Today this measure is no longer biding. There are many skyscrapers and tall buildings in the city yet Gugong still maintains its charm. Even when it is 40 degrees outside.

Forbidden City

Had we desire to see more of precious collections once stored there, we would have to travel to Taiwan 台湾. Chiang Kai-shek took them there after being defeated in the civil war by the communists. Gugong lost some of its former glamor- some colelctions were stolen, so it has been empty for a long time. The last dweller there was the last emperor Puyi溥 of Aisin Gioro, the ruling Manju dynasty. Try to watch the Last Emperor by director Bertolucci first. It is a story of hard fate of this last ruler who lost his title when he was merely eight years old. Once you were walking through vast courtyards and peak into all chamber, then you perhaps imagine this little boy, who was in fact a prisoner in the Forbidden city.

Forbidden City

Endless strain of tourists streams in there. Therefore, it is slightly complicated if you intend to enjoy the atmosphere of once sacred place. Moreover, there is direct proportion between the number of visitrs and admission fee which in the present is around 60 yuans. In winter 40 yuans. Still, Gugung (Forbidden City) remains the most important sight in Chinese capital. It goes without saying that it is a must. Even though there is smog and is really hot outside..

GPS: 39°54'58.8"N 116°23'50.1"E

Text: Hana Bašová

Photos: Hana Bašová, Wikimedia Commons: Shizhao

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