The Palace Museum, known as the Imperial Palace during the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties, is known to be the largest ancient architectural complex in China; it was listed as a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site in 1987.
Our curator, Lisa, who showed us round the edifice, said that the construction of the city began in 1407, which was the fifth year of the Yongle reign, a descendant of the Ming dynasty, and that it was completed in the year 1920, taking about 14 years to build.
The Forbidden City is sited on 72 hectares of land and the rooms in the palace are 9, 999.5; and as we were told, the Emperor believed that he was a direct descendant of God in Heaven, and that he would not disrespect God by building a ten thousand room palace because that is what was believed to be in Heaven.
The height of the building, the decorations and the arrangement of the walls, including the doors which have golden studs, were designed in such a way to make the palace look spectacular and well ordered; and according to the curator, during ancient China, commoners were restricted access into the palace that is why it is called the Forbidden City.
The palace is made up of several quarters, which consist of the outer court, the inner court and far eastern route; the outer court has three halls, which was where the emperor held ceremonies and rituals; the inner is at the rear of the outer court, which was the where emperor handled his official matters; that was where the imperial concubines and princes lived; there is also the imperial garden, where there is a tree, which our curator said, was more than three hundred years old.
Apart from being a tourist attraction, the magnificent building, the Forbidden City, can be said to be a true reflection of the Chinese civilization, which is said to span over 5, 000 years.
On tour to the Forbidden City were Mr. Segun Adegbaju (Asst. Director, NICO), Mr. Ibrahim Malgwi (Head of Protocol, NICO), Mr. Victor Omoniyi (NCAC), and delegates from 13 English speaking African countries.
Emeka Anthony Bokolo
(Reporting from Beijing, China)