Today and Wednesday I’ll be taking you on a guided tour of the Forbidden City, along with the help of Ursula and of course our ever-capable, ever-friendly, ever fascinating tour guide Mao Gui “Jim” Chen of that wonderful and affordable company China Spree. We’ll finish up on Friday with my favorite photographs of this massive 7,800,000 square-foot/720,000 square meter, 980-building complex in the heart of Beijing.
As you’ll recall from last week our first day of touring was a long one, and it started out in bitter, skin-stinging cold. We started out visiting Tiananmen square, traversed this week’s subject — the Forbidden City — and continued with a rickshaw ride to a wonderful luncheon.
What you don’t know is that we weren’t done yet. We continued into the afternoon with a trip to Beihai Park (which I’ll show you next week) and well into the evening with an authentic and very delicious Peking Duck dinner. We didn’t fall into bed until sometime around an exhausting 10:00 P.M that night.
By the way, it took 1,000,000 workers to build this extraordinary complex over that 14-year period from 1406 to 1420. I find that simply incredible, but when you look at the details you begin to understand that many of that number must have been craftsmen rather than just construction workers.
One of the more nifty elements in the Forbidden City are the many iron and copper kettles located throughout. They were placed there to function as early fire hydrants, holding water to use in case a blaze erupted somewhere inside the complex.
I’ll have more on the history of this imperial fantasy land on Wednesday. Until then just click on any image in the gallery below to start today’s slide show: