Tiananmen Square on October 4th, 2010

Tiananmen Square as viewed Monday morning from the Tian'an Gate

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.

Tian'an Gate Polychromed Embellishment

I would end up taking many, many photos of this kind of an architectural detail

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:

A river runs through it... the Imperial Family did not care much for water, however. Save for the moat that goes around the Forbidden City, there isn't a significant amount of water anywhere in the complex

The next gate (the Imperials definitely loved their gates!) provided the most memorable vista of the entire City, the Hall of Supreme Harmony:

I was thinking here that this courtyard and Hall would be more impressive in the winter (with the snow)

Compare the polychroming on the entrance portal...

... with the polychroming on an Imperial Hall

The grand courtyard with typical Imperial stonework

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:

Trees are so rare to be seen in the Forbidden City that more personal courtyards like this one in the furthest northeast portion open to the public that it was a relief to be in here and away from the noisy crowds

The late afternoon sunlight adds considerable depth and interest to the space

The polychroming commonly found on all smaller courtyard buildings. This photo was taken through a grille looking at the unrestored (and hence, unaccessible) part of the complex. It is a bit of a pity with the Chinese aversion to the "old"