Which Dynasty Began The Building Of The Forbidden City

For thousands of years, the Forbidden City—as it was eventually renamed—remained the ultimate symbol of Chinese imperial power. Built by the Ming Dynasty in the early 15th century, and expanded by the Qing Dynasty in the late 17th century, it was home to more than 20 emperors and their families for nearly 500 years. It still stands today as a reminder of one of the longest unbroken dynasties in world history.

The Forbidden City was not the first emperor-commissioned city in Chinese history. During the Zhou Dynasty (1046-256 BCE), the Zhengzhou area of Henan province was already developing as a proto-urban center. But no single project demonstrated so clearly the extent of the emperor’s power and the commitment of the people to erect and maintain a palace city, vast enough to match the ruler’s fantasies, as the Forbidden City.

The Forbidden City was commissioned by Zhu Di, the third emperor of the Ming Dynasty, who declared Beijing its capital in 1421 and decided to have a palace constructed that would reflect his dynasty’s rise from a humble beginning. It is believed that over 1 million artisans and laborers were involved in the 15-year building project.

The Forbidden City was designed to create an aura of myster and grandeur, using special materials, techniques, and ornamentation. Construction of the vast complex employed the traditional Chinese system of modular construction. The layout is an excellent example of Chinese palace architecture that combines aesthetics with bingxue (ice-and-snow science).

The Forbidden City is surrounded by a 192-meter wide, 6-meter-high wall and consists of 980 buildings, including palaces, temples, and gardens. Inside, every cranny of space is decorated with a luxurious array of precious materials, including gold, silver, jade, and the rarest of all—phoenix feathers.

As the most sacred symbol of the Middle Kingdom, the Forbidden City—located in the heart of Beijing—has always represented imperial power in Chinese culture. Even though it is no longer inhabited by the Chinese imperial family, it remains one of the most visited sites in China and has become a World Heritage Site.

Effect of the Forbidden City on Chinese Culture

The Forbidden City has long been seen as the symbol of Chinese civilization and its imperial history. It inspired countless poets, philosophers, and thinkers, who discussed the fall of dynasties and the power of the palace.
The story of the Forbidden City is not just about the past. Chinese people use it to find root and a sense of belonging. It is also a living reminder of how power can be used and abused in different societies.
The significance of the Forbidden City in Chinese culture is rooted in its 8,704 bays of rooms and the abundance of artifacts it contains. Most of the artifacts were collected by the emperors throughout the dynasties and include clothes, furniture, books, and ceramics. These objects provide historians, academics, and anyone else interested in learning more about China’s imperial history with valuable insight into how everyday life in the palace may have been.
Apart from being a source of inspiration and a powerful symbol of China’s past, the Forbidden City remains a major tourist attraction. Over 14 million visitors visit Chinese palaces every year, according to Chinese Cultural Relics 2020. A tour inside the palace walls offers a glimpse of Chinese architecture, art, and culture, revealing a version of Chinese society that remains largely closed to the outside world.

Long-Lasting Legacy of the Forbidden City

The Forbidden City has come to be seen as an integral part of Chinese culture, with its specific aesthetic, architectural style and decor influencing many aspects of Chinese life. From the scale of the complex to the grandiose gateways, palaces and temples, the Forbidden City has left a lasting imprint on the Chinese imagination.
The architectural style of the Forbidden City has been emulated in many other cities throughout China. For instance, the city of Xi’an has adopted a Forbidden City-style layout in its urban planning, while Suzhou has followed suit in its historic streets and alleyways.
The influences of the Forbidden City reach beyond the physical realm. For centuries, emperors such as Emperor Kangxi, Emperor Qianlong, and Emperor Xuantong respectively, tried to replicate the success of the Forbidden City with grandiose projects such as the Summer Palace and the Temple of Heaven.
The grandeur of the Forbidden City has inspired Chinese art and literature, from popular novels and dramas to period films. Even today, references to the Forbidden City by Chinese authors, filmmakers and other artists remain popular, as it continues to serve as a powerful symbol of Chinese culture and imperial power.

Conservation of Forbidden City

The Forbidden City has long been a major tourist attraction in Beijing and is one of the most visited sites in China. Every year, millions of visitors pour into the palace to experience its grandeur first-hand.
To ensure its protection, preservation, and conservation, the Chinese government has taken various initiatives over the years. In 1961, the palace was designated as a cultural relic, while in 1987 it was successfully listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
The Chinese government also put in place maximum capacity rules for all of the palace rooms and restricted the number of people who can enter the Forbidden City to 8,000 per day. Regular maintenance and repair projects are also undertaken so that the palace remains in its original form for future generations to enjoy.
In addition, various visitor-friendly initiatives—such as informational tours and a modern multimedia exhibition—have been implemented to ensure an enjoyable and informative visit for all.

Significance of the Forbidden City in the Current Times

The Forbidden City continues to be an important symbol of Chinese culture in the present day. Today, it stands as a testament to the resilience of the Chinese people, as well as to their commitment to preserving and celebrating their historic heritage.
In a rapidly modernizing China, the Forbidden City serves as a reminder of the slow, and deliberate progress that has been made over the last several centuries, on the path to sustained development.
Though the Forbidden City no longer serves as the center of Chinese imperial power, it remains a tangible reminder of the country’s past. Whenever people visit the palace, it evokes a sense of nostalgia for a time that is gone but never forgotten.
For these reasons, it is no surprise that the Forbidden City continues to be one of the most popular tourist attractions in China. A visit to the palace offers a rare glimpse into the Chinese imperial history and culture, making it an experience that is not to be missed.

Effects of the Forbidden City on the World today

The Forbidden City has had a lasting impact on the world, thanks to its status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In addition to inspiring architects, artists, and filmmakers, the palace has become a symbol of China’s rise as a major world power since it opened to the outside world a century ago.
Today, the Forbidden City has become a truly international destination, receiving millions of visitors from all over the world every year.
The Forbidden City has also served as an inspiration for several other impressive imperial cities around the world, from the Palace of Versailles in France to the Imperial Palace in Japan. In addition, the palace has become a popular subject for educational programmes and lectures, allowing teachers and students to explore the history and culture of China in greater depth.
In short, the Forbidden City is a unique cultural icon that continues to be revered and admired throughout the world. It is a living reminder of the influence of the Chinese imperial power and the importance of preserving history and culture.

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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