Forbidden City (Palace Museum)

 Note: During 2020 Chinese New Year holiday, the Forbidden City will close on Jan. 24, 2020 and open from 8:30 to 16:30 between Jan. 25 and 30, including Jan. 27, which is Monday.
A Bird's Eye View of Forbidden City
A Bird's Eye View of Forbidden City
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Forbidden City, also known as the Palace Museum, and Gu Gong in Chinese, lies at the city center of Beijing, and once served as the imperial palace for 24 emperors during the Ming and Qing Dynasties (1368 - 1911). It was first built throughout 14 years during the reign of Emperor Chengzu in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). Ancient Chinese Astronomers believed that the Purple Star (Polaris) was in the center of heaven and the Heavenly Emperor lived in the Purple Palace. The Palace for the emperor on earth was so called the Purple City. It was forbidden to enter without special permission of the emperor. Hence its name 'The Purple Forbidden City', usually 'The Forbidden City'.

Now known as the Palace Museum, it is to the north of Tiananmen Square. Rectangular in shape, it is the world's largest palace complex and covers 74 hectares. Surrounded by a 52-meter-wide moat and a 10-meter-high wall are more than 8,700 rooms. The wall has a gate on each side. The distance between the south Meridian Gate (Wumen) and the north Gate of Divine Prowess (Shenwumen) is 961 meters (1,051 yards), while the distance between the east and west gates is 753 meters (823 yards). There are unique and delicately structured towers on each of the four corners of the curtain wall. These afford views over both the palace and the city outside.

 Facts & History
Travel Tips & FAQs
How to Visit
Architectural Characteristics
 Who built it?
 When was it built?
 Why was it built?
 Why called Forbidden City?
 How big is it?
Why is it Important?
What is it famous for?

The Forbidden City is divided into two parts. The southern section, or the Outer Court was where the emperor exercised his supreme power over the nation. The northern section, or the Inner Court was where he lived with his royal family.

Until 1924 when the last emperor of China was driven from the Inner Court, fourteen emperors of the Ming dynasty and ten emperors of the Qing dynasty had reigned here. Having been the imperial palace for some five centuries, Forbidden City houses numerous rare treasures and curiosities. Listed by UNESCO as a World Cultural Heritage Site in 1987, the Palace Museum is now one of the most popular tourist attractions world-wide.
Construction of the palace complex began in 1407, the 5th year of the Yongle reign of the third emperor (Emperor Chengzu, Zhu Di) of the Ming dynasty. It was completed fourteen years later in 1420, and then the capital city was moved from Nanjing to Beijing the next year. It was said that a million workers including one hundred thousand artisans were driven into the  long-term hard labor. Stone needed was quarried from Fangshan District. It was said a well was dug every fifty meters along the road in order to pour water onto the road in winter to slide huge stones on ice into the city. Huge amounts of timber and other materials were freighted from faraway provinces.

Ancient Chinese people displayed their very considerable skills in building the Forbidden City. Take the grand red city wall for example. It has an 8.6 meters wide base reducing to 6.66 meters wide at the top. The angular shape of the wall totally frustrates attempts to climb it. The bricks were made from white lime and glutinous rice while the cement is made from glutinous rice and egg whites. These incredible materials make the wall extraordinarily strong.

Since yellow is the symbol of the royal family, it is the dominant color in it. Roofs are built with yellow glazed tiles; decorations in the palace are painted yellow; even the bricks on the ground are made yellow by a special process. However, there is one exception. Wenyuange, the royal library, has a black roof. The reason is that it was believed black represented water then and could extinguish fire.

Nowadays, Forbidden City is open to tourists from home and abroad. Splendid painted decoration on these royal architectural wonders, the grand and deluxe halls, with their surprisingly magnificent treasures will certainly satisfy 'modern civilians'.

Touring Route and Time

The museum carries out a south-to-north unidirectional itinerary. Visitors can only enter through the Meridian Gate (Wumen) and leave from the Gate of Divine Prowess (Shenwumen) or East Prosperity Gate (Donghuamen). Three to four hours is enough for touring the central axis; if you have interest in exploring more about the imperial palace, more time need to be spent in the west and east wings.

 How to get to the Forbidden City
Entry is allowed only through the Meridian Gate, the south gate of the museum.

1.   Subway:
a.   Take Subway Line 1, get off at Tiananmen East Station (Exit A) or Tiananmen West Station (Exit B), find the Tiananmen Tower, and then walk north to the Meridian Gate;
b.   Take Subway Line 2, get off at Qianmen Station (Exit A), walk north through the Tiananmen Square, pass the Tiananmen Tower, and then find the Meridian Gate further north.

2.   Bus:
a.   Take Bus 1, 2, 52, 59, 82, 120, Sightseeing Bus Line 2 or Tourist Bus Line 2, and get off at Tiananmen East Station;
b.   Take Bus 1, 5, 52, Sightseeing Bus Line 1, Sightseeing Bus Line 2 or Tourist Line 2, and get off at Tiananmen West Station.

 See more: How to Get from Beijing South Railway Station to Forbidden City & Tiananmen Square

 How to leave from the Forbidden City
Exit is allowed only through the Gate of Divine Prowess in the north of the museum, and the East Prosperity Gate.

1.   Leaving from the Gate of Divine Prowess:
a.   Take Bus 58, 101, 103, 109, 124, 128, Sightseeing Bus Line 1, Sightseeing Bus Line 2 or Sightseeing Bus Line 3 at Gugong (Forbidden City) Station.
b.   Take Bus 58, 111, 124 or Sightseeing Bus Line 3 at Jingshan East Gate Station.

2.   Leaving from the East Prosperity Gate:
a.   Take Bus 2 or 82 at Donghuamen Station.
b.   Take Sightseeing Line 2 at Gugong East Gate Station.

Beijing Bus / Subway Search

Ticket Price

Entrance Ticket April to October: CNY 60
November to March: CNY 40
Treasure Gallery CNY 10 (in Palace of Tranquil Longevity, including the Opera Museum and Stone Drum Museum)
Clock and Watch Gallery CNY 10 (in Hall for Ancestry Worship)


1. Free for children under 1.2 meters (3.9 feet), each accompanied by an adult.
2. For minors between 6 and 18 years old, the admission ticket price is CNY 20 and the ticket for Treasure Gallery and Clock and Watch Gallery each is CNY 5.
3. Seniors elder than 60 can enjoy half price by showing a valid ID or passport.
4. The Annual Ticket (CNY 300 for 10 entries a year) is only applied to Chinese citizens.

How to Buy Tickets of Forbidden City

The museum allows 80,000 visitors a day. All visitors need to buy ticket online or by scanning the official QR code on site.

However English service is not ready yet on the official booking website, so foreigners need to buy tickets through travel agencies or Chinese friends. If it seems difficult, a ticket window is opened near the Meridian Gate for special needs and you may get a ticket from there. It is important to get there and buy tickets as early as possible, especially during holidays.

Real-name policy has been carried out in ticketing. ID cards of Chinese visitors and passports of foreigners need to be shown when buying tickets. Chinese need to swipe their ID cards at the entrance, while foreigners should go through the special channel(s) to have their passports checked.

Months Opening Hours Ticketing Time Entry Time
April to October 8:30-17:00 8:30-16:00


November to March 8:30-16:30 8:30-15:30 8:30-15:40

It is closed on Mondays, except the Chinese statutory holidays.

  Top 10 Things to Do in Beijing

- Last modified on Jan. 16, 2020 -
Questions & Answers on Forbidden City
Asked by David from USA | Jan. 11, 2020 14:10Reply
which section of the FORBIDDEN CITY is free?
Answers (1)
Answered by Daniel from UNITED KINGDOM | Jan. 13, 2020 00:51

You have to buy the entry ticket to enter the Forbidden City.
Asked by Matteo from ITALY | Jan. 09, 2020 03:02Reply
Procedure for tickets
Dear Team, can you kindly show me the exact steps to purchase the tickets, collect them and entry in the Forbidden City?
I mean, considering that I am foreign visitor:
How can buy the tickets?
Can I pay by Paypal/Credit Card?
How I can collect the tickets?
How can entry in the Forbidden City? (I mean, go with the tickets, only with Passport, go to some reservation to the ticket office and then take tickets.....)
Sorry for many questions but I don't want to take risks!
Have a good day,
Answers (1)
Answered by Alex from UNITED KINGDOM | Jan. 09, 2020 19:42

You only can book or buy the ticket at official website of The Palace Museum nowadays. Follow the instructions in the website and you can buy it. It doesn't need paper ticket to entry the Forbidden City, so bring your passport is enough.
Asked by Nick from CANADA | Dec. 31, 2019 09:38Reply
Will Beijing Forbidden City be open on Monday, 4-May-2020 as it is Labor holiday?
Answers (1)
Answered by Kate from MALAYSIA | Jan. 01, 2020 19:46

It is closed on Mondays, except the Chinese statutory holidays. But don't worry. May 4th is during the labor holiday this year. The scenic area will open.
Asked by David Chee from MALAYSIA | Dec. 11, 2019 05:23Reply
Is there any place for lunch in Forbidden City if we plan to be there from Morning till Evening?
If there is no place for lunch, are we allowed to go out from Forbidden City and then back in after lunch with the same ticket? If not, any suggestion on where to have lunch? Thanks
Answers (1)
Answered by James from UKRAINE | Dec. 11, 2019 18:28

Don't worry. You can find several restaurants inside the scenic area. Or you can also prepare some food by yourself. :)
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