What Year Was The Forbidden City Built

History of the Forbidden City

The Forbidden City is an imperial palace located in the heart of Beijing, China. It was the Chinese imperial palace from the mid Ming to the end of the Qing Dynasty. It is now known as the Palace Museum. The Forbidden City has evolved over several centuries and is one of the most important historical sites in the world.

Construction Period

The Forbidden City was built between 1406 and 1420 during the Ming Dynasty. It was initiated by Emperor Yongle, the third emperor of the Ming Dynasty, and took fourteen years to complete. The project was a massive undertaking that involved the use of more than one million workers and an estimated material cost of over 1.4 trillion Chinese yuan. The large ramparts and imperial walls we see today are a testament to the sheer size and scope of the project.

Architecture and Design

The Forbidden City is an example of traditional Chinese architecture, including symmetrical layouts, elaborate courtyards, palatial halls, and gardens. At the center of the Forbidden City is the Hall of Supreme Harmony, a three-tiered pavilion. The entire palace complex is divided into two symmetrical parts—the southern part is referred to as the Outer Court, while the northern part is the Inner Court. The Outer Court, designed for ceremonial purposes, consists of three main structures: the Palace of Heavenly Purity, the Hall of Union, and the Palace of Earthly Tranquility. The Inner Court, where the emperor lived and conducted affairs of state, is centered around the Hall of Mental Cultivation.

Cultural Heritage

The Forbidden City’s significance extends beyond its remarkable architecture and impressive scale. It is a showcase of Chinese culture, history, and art. It houses hundreds of intricate works of art, ranging from ancient artifacts to exquisite porcelain and bronze sculptures. The vast Palace Museum collection includes over a million items spanning over a millennium of Chinese history.


The Forbidden City has been diligently conserved since 1949. The Chinese government has invested in the preservation of the palace complex and its artifacts through comprehensive conservation initiatives and the implementation of conservation planning. The Forbidden City was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1987 and has since become a major attraction for visitors from around the world.

Economic Impact of the Forbidden City

The Forbidden City has become an important source of revenue for the city of Beijing. The palace complex draws in millions of tourists each year and generates significant revenue through ticket sales, souvenir sales, and other related activities. This revenue has allowed the city to invest in restoring and conserving this important site and propagate Chinese culture to millions of visitors worldwide.

Controversies Around the Forbidden City

The Forbidden City has had its fair share of controversies that reached people beyond China. In 2017, a controversial documentary was aired examining the political, social, and economical implications of Chinese culture and the country’s treatment of its citizens. In addition, human rights activists have constantly criticized the palace complex’s past use as a tool to suppress the Chinese people and the lack of transparency and accountability that surround the palace’s operations.

Impact on World Culture

The Forbidden City has had a profound effect on world culture and art. Throughout history, the palace complex has served as an inspiration for a number of films and television series, as well as various fashion designers, visual artists, writers, and musicians. The Forbidden City is considered a source of global pride for the Chinese people and is regarded as one of the country’s most iconic landmarks.

Symbolism of the Forbidden City

The Forbidden City is steeped in symbolism, from its carefully crafted layout to the artwork adorning its walls. The palace complex is divided into two symmetric parts: the Outer Court, where state affairs were conducted, and the Inner Court, where the emperor and empress lived. This design exemplifies the Chinese philosophy of Yin and Yang, which views the universe as one unified system of opposing elements. The palace’s color scheme of yellow and blue also reflects the ancient belief in the five elements of Chinese philosophy—wood, fire, earth, metal, and water.

Modern Uses of the Forbidden City

The Forbidden City continues to be a major center of cultural, religious, and recreational activities. Over the last few decades, the palace complex has hosted many cultural events, concerts, and festivals. The Great Hall of the People, located in the western part of the Forbidden City, is now used as a venue for grandiose state events and ceremonies. In addition, the palace complex is used as a filming location by film crews from all over the world.


The Forbidden City, located in the heart of Beijing, has endured for hundreds of years. Initially built as an imperial palace during the Ming Dynasty in 1406, the city has since evolved into one of the most important historical sites in the world. It stands as a symbol of Chinese culture, history, and art and continues to inspire generations of people. The Forbidden City continues to contribute to the local economy and has become a major source of revenue for the city of Beijing.

Herman Shaw is a passionate traveler and avid photographer who has seen many of the world's most awe-inspiring monuments. He has developed expertise in various aspects of world architecture and culture which he enjoys sharing with his readers. With deep historical knowledge and insight, Herman's writing brings life to these remarkable artifacts and highlights their importance in the grand scheme of human history.

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