On Monday, October 4th, I visited the Forbidden City. I went straight through, from south to north and double backed again after I noticed that I missed the entire right side of the city complex. The 15 rmb entrance fee to get onto the Tian'an Gate was worth it and the wait was fairly minimal despite the massive crowds.
After passing through the 'Upright Gate' which was pretty much a mirror of Tian'an, I was able to relish in the experience of being an official visitor to the Emperor by waiting in line for tickets for 90 minutes. Ticket in hand, I walked through the main entrance of the Meridian Gate, because, of course, the Emperor always walked through this entrance (side gates were for everyone else). What met me on the other side is what is known as the Gate of Supreme Harmony, to which I thought the canal going through the square before this gate was more interesting:
The next gate (the Imperials definitely loved their gates!) provided the most memorable vista of the entire City, the Hall of Supreme Harmony:
And then... it was more of the same: large courtyard followed by impressive structure followed by courtyard... I did not lose interest; I kept taking photographs of everything, but in the interest of reading sanity for my very few readers, I'm going to truncate this post to show my favorite area which was in the northeast part of the City, in the Palace of Tranquil Longevity: