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Forbidden City
24 emperors ruled China from within the Forbidden City during the Ming and Qing dynasties (1368-1911AD). The Forbidden City is so named as commoners were barred from entering the palace grounds. The palace was an elusive "city within a city" for the emperor, his royal family, concubines, eunuchs and servants. The privacy of the imperial family was guarded by a 10 meter (33ft) wall and 52 meter (170ft) moat that enclosed the complex.The palace was initially constructed by 200,000 workmen under the order of the third Ming emperor Yongle in 1420. This former imperial residence covers an area of 72 hectares, has a total floor space
of some 160,000 sq meters and houses 800 buildings and 9,000 chambers. It is a maze of halls, pavilions, courtyards and walls and is an architectural masterpiece.After being the center of the Chinese world for nearly 500 years, the Forbidden City is now one of the largest and best preserved palace complexes in the world. The Palace Museum has been opened to the public since the 1950s and around a million rare and valuable objects are housed there. Visitors should plan on spending at least 1/2 a day here.
Tiananmen Gate
Tiananmen Gate, or the Gate of Heavenly Peace, bounds the northern end of Tiananmen Square in the center of Beijing. It was first built in 1417 during the Ming Emperor Yongle reign as the principal entrance leading to the Forbidden City. At that time the gate was named Chengtianmen, but the wooden structure burned down in 1457 and was reerected in 1651 and renamed Tiananmen.The gate stands 34 meters (112ft) high, has red stone walls, a wooden roof and contains five arched passages leading through its white marble base. The gate is surrounded by a moat, the Golden Water River, which was formed to guard
the Imperial Palace. Five white marble bridges cross the river and lead to the passages of the gate. Ornamental marble and columns and stone lions decorate the front of the gate.
Badaling Great Wall
75km (47 miles) northwest of Beijing, the Badaling Great Wall is typical of the wall during the Ming dynasty (1368-1644AD). This section of the Great Wall attracts the most tourists as they enjoy walking along the stretches of the wall and also because the gigantic feat of construction is most impressive. Guard rails and cable cars make Badaling a safe and almost easy way to see the Great Wall. The government has restored this part of the wall so that every tower and turret stands just as it did when the Mongols overran the country 700 years ago. Observation holes are available on the upper part of the battlements . Badaling is also