By Paul S Bryers, September 2016
Located in the central part of the Dōngchéng District are some of Beijing’s best attractions. We took the subway to Tian’anmen Square and then walked to each of the sights. The infamous square is vast, accommodating over 1 million soles. Located off the square is the huge Parliament building, which seats over 5,000 politicians from around China, an obelisk war memorial, Chairman Mao’s Memorial Hall/Tomb and an enormous unmarked building that our guide asserted was the equivalent of the USA’s CIA….
The best part about the square is people watching – loads going on. We met some guys from Tibet who insisted on photos.
Nothing really prepares you for the size and imperial splendor of the Forbidden City (FC). The first photo below is of the whole of the FC, taken from the top of the hill in Jingahan Park and looking South with the North Gate in the foreground. You can only enter the FC by the South (Meridian) Gate and exit by the North Gate. After entering the South Gate you proceed with growing awe at the sheer size of the city – which was basically for one person – the Emperor – plus his entourage of a wife, concubines and eunicks. Apparently the concubines were always fighting with each other and bribing the eunicks so they could get to sleep with the Emperor – if they got pregnant they got better accommodations and presents ……You could send a few days exploring the FC. My advice would be to walk in a fairly straight line between the South and North Gates, turning your head East and West as you proceed. The Palaces and Hallways get ever more impressive as you head North, until ultimately you arrive at the Imperial Gardens and the North Gate. Time to go and have a nice cup of tea.