The Palace Museum Travel Tips

On August 12, 2011, in Beijing, Forbidden City, Museums, Travel Info, by Jack Li

Initially named Forbidden City, the Palace Museum was the imperial palace of Ming and Qing dynasty.  Located in the center of Beijing, it is a prominent work of ancient constructions.  At present, it is the largest and best preserved wooden building in the world. Best Time to the Palace Museum As Beijing lies in temperate […]

Initially named Forbidden City, the Palace Museum was the imperial palace of Ming and Qing dynasty.  Located in the center of Beijing, it is a prominent work of ancient constructions.  At present, it is the largest and best preserved wooden building in the world.

Best Time to the Palace Museum

As Beijing lies in temperate continental monsoon climate zone, temperate continental monsoon climate, each season has its own characteristic.  Winters are dry, cold, windy and dusty; general temperature in January is minus 4 degree.  On the contrary, summer is hot, wet and rainy with a general temperature of 26℃.  So the best time to Palace Museum is from late April and early June; from late August to the end of November.  During the first period, Beijing is just in spring, when the Palace Museum full of vibrant trees and bright—colored flowers.

The Palace Museum Best Routes

The recommended route is as follows.  Come in from the Meridian Gate, then walk along the axle wire and visit the Golden Devine Might Hall, the Hall of Supreme Harmony, the Hall of Central Harmony, Hall of Preserving Harmony, Palace of Heavenly Purity, the Hall of Union, Palace of Earthly Tranquility and the Imperial Garden one by one.

As you going through the Gate of Heavenly, there are three different tour routes available.  If you are on a half—day trip, the mid route is recommended.  Going along the mid route, you can look around the Palace of Heavenly Purity, the Hall of Union, the Palace of Earthly Tranquility and residences of imperial Concubines.  Generally speaking, visiting the whole museum in half day is impossible; one day is better.  If you want to have an in-depth tour, two days are needed.

The Palace Museum Tickets

In boom season (from April to October): 60RMB/person (Treasure Hall and Watch Museum are not included).

In slack season (from November to March): 40RMB/person (Treasure Hall and Watch Museum are not included).

Treasure Hall (located in Palace of Tranquil Longevity, including Chinese Opera Hall and Stone Drums Museum): 10RMB/person.

Watch Museum (located in the Hall of Ancestral Worship):10RMB/person.  (Ticket is free for child whose height is less than 1.2m with the company of guardian)

Preferential policy (Treasure Hall and Watch Museum are not included): ticket is 20RMB/student for students (including students from Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan; except for students of adult education and graduate students) with student cards or a letter of introduction from school.

How to Get to the Palace Museum

By bus: line1, 4, 5, 10, 20, 52,101,103 and more arrive at Tiananmen station.

By subway: take line1 and get off Tiananmen east or west station, then walk to the Tiananmen Square.

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Zhenfei (Zhen Concubine) Well

On August 12, 2011, in Beijing, Historical Relics, by Jack Li

Because of Empress Dowager Cixi hatred towards Zhenfei , she imprisoned Zhenfei in an isolated small yard to prevent her from meeting the Emperor Guangxu.  Zhenfei could get food just from the crack in a door.  As a result, she was becoming more and more emaciated day by day.  In 1900, to escape the war […]

Because of Empress Dowager Cixi hatred towards Zhenfei , she imprisoned Zhenfei in an isolated small yard to prevent her from meeting the Emperor Guangxu.  Zhenfei could get food just from the crack in a door.  As a result, she was becoming more and more emaciated day by day.  In 1900, to escape the war caused by the Eight—Power Allied Forces, Empress Dowager Cixi decided to go to Xi’an with her son.  Before setting off, she ordered an eunuch to murder Zhenfei.  Zhenfei’s words, refusing to obey the order, enraged the Empress so much that she had Zhenfei pushed into the well at once. She died instantly. A huge stone, used to prevent Zhenfei from escaping, was put on the well.  The later generations called it as Zhenfei Well.

The Palace Museum

Palace of Heavenly Purity

On August 12, 2011, in Beijing, Forbidden City, Palaces, by Jack Li

Emperors in Ming and Qing dynasty lived and conducted daily affairs in the Palace of Heavenly Purity. It is located inside the inner court. Its height is 20 meters. It is superior to the Hall of Jiaotai and Palace of Kunning. It is located just behind the Heavenly Purity Gate. The Chinese name for the […]

Emperors in Ming and Qing dynasty lived and conducted daily affairs in the Palace of Heavenly Purity. It is located inside the inner court. Its height is 20 meters. It is superior to the Hall of Jiaotai and Palace of Kunning. It is located just behind the Heavenly Purity Gate. The Chinese name for the Palace of Heavenly Purity is Qianqinggong (‘qian’ means heavenly and ‘qing’ means purity). The name ‘Qianqing’ has two level meaning. First it reflects a wish that the country should be as stable as the sky. Second is a reminder of the emperor – he should be responsible to the people, his behavior should be as clear as the sky. In the middle of the palace, there is a throne. Above the throne, there is a plaque saying ‘Zhengdaguanming’. Since the Yongzheng emperor in Qing dynasty, the plaque became a place where the emperor hid the list of heir. The story is that in case that his sons would fight over the throne, the Yongzheng emperor would have chosen an heir beforehand. He wrote down the heir’s name on a paper and made a copy of it. One of them would be hid behind the plaque, and he carried the other ones with himself. After his death, the officials would open the box behind the plaque to see who the heir is. On the each side of the palace, there are drawing rooms where emperor used to rest and read books. The western drawing room has 27 beds in total for the emperor to choose. It was said that so many beds could make assassins feel puzzled. So the safety of the emperor could be assured. Emperors after Yongzheng emperor did no longer live in the palace, but they still worked there. In the palace, there are special rooms for storing clothes, books and stationery of the emperor. And the studying room of princes is situated in the southern part of the palace. The southern official room for scholars is also located there.

The Palace Museum

The Hall of Supreme Harmony

On August 12, 2011, in Beijing, Forbidden City, Must-sees, by Jack Li

The Hall of Supreme Harmony is commonly known as the Hall of Golden Chime.  Covering an area of 2377sqm, it has a height of 35.05m, a width of 35m and a length of 63m.  To show the emperor’s supreme position, the ratio of the hall’s length and width is nine to five (in ancient China, […]

The Hall of Supreme Harmony is commonly known as the Hall of Golden Chime.  Covering an area of 2377sqm, it has a height of 35.05m, a width of 35m and a length of 63m.  To show the emperor’s supreme position, the ratio of the hall’s length and width is nine to five (in ancient China, nine and five point to the imperial throne).  Moreover, it is the largest, most magnificent construction of the highest format in the Forbidden City.  Its double—eaved hip roof was considered as the highest format of imperial palace from Ming dynasty.  Inside the hall, there are 72 posts with 1m diameter; 6 of them, printed with gold lacquer and carved with curled-up dragons, are surrounding the throne.  As the highest sign of feudal power, the throne is built on a 2m high platform.  Beautiful bronze crane, stove and tripod are in the front; a screen carved with dragons is in rear.  The magnificient wooden construction is decorated in great detail.  In ancient times, it used to be a place where the emperors celebrated great ceremonies, such as the emperors’ accession to the throne, their birthday, weddings, New Year and more.

The Palace Museum

The Gate of Devine Might

On August 12, 2011, in Beijing, Forbidden City, Museums, by Jack Li

The Gate of the Devine Might, the northern gate of the Forbidden City as well as the front door of the Palace Museum, was founded in 1420 (the 18th year of Emperor Yongle), with the name of Xuanwu Men in Ming Dynasty. Xuanwu is one of the ancient mythological beasts. According to ancient beliefs, Blue […]

The Gate of the Devine Might, the northern gate of the Forbidden City as well as the front door of the Palace Museum, was founded in 1420 (the 18th year of Emperor Yongle), with the name of Xuanwu Men in Ming Dynasty. Xuanwu is one of the ancient mythological beasts. According to ancient beliefs, Blue Dragon is in charge of the left, White Tiger the right, Zhuque the front and Xuanwu the back. As Xuanwu supervise the north, the North gates of imperial palaces are usually named as Xuanwu. When it was reconstructed during the reign of Kangxi of Qing Dynasty, the emperor changed its name into Shenwu (the Gate of Devine Might) to avoid Xuanwu as taboo because of the Emperor Kangxi’s name Xuanye. As the back door of the palace, the Gate of Devine Might used to be an important entrance for people living in the palace. It served as a passageway for empresses during silkworm ceremony in Ming and Qing Dynasty. In Qing Dynasty, the emperor chose Xiunv (women chosen from the folk for the emperors) every three years and the Xiunv entered the palace through this gate. When the last emperor of Qing Dynasty, Fuyi, was expelled out of the palace in 1924, he exits the palace through this gate. As the Palace Museum set up in 1925, the plaque of ”the Palace Museum” was hung over the entrance and the gate was appointed as the front door of the Palace Museum. With the height of 31 meters, the gate was set as a rectangle. The base of the gate is white marble Xu Mizuo, and the city tower has three door openings and with a gate tower on it.

The Palace Museum

The Palace Museum

On August 12, 2011, in Beijing, Forbidden City, Museums, Palaces, by Jack Li

The Palace Museum is located in the center of Beijing, formerly known as the Forbidden City. It was accomplished in the 18th year during the reign of Yongle Emperor in Ming dynasty (1420). It was the imperial palace in Ming and Qing dynasty. It is a unique masterpiece of ancient architecture and the largest, the […]

The Palace Museum is located in the center of Beijing, formerly known as the Forbidden City. It was accomplished in the 18th year during the reign of Yongle Emperor in Ming dynasty (1420). It was the imperial palace in Ming and Qing dynasty. It is a unique masterpiece of ancient architecture and the largest, the most complete ancient wooden structure building. All buildings of the Palace Museum are divided into two parts — ‘outer court’ and ‘inner court’. The Palace Museum was surrounded by a moat named ‘Tube River’. The area of the Palace Museum is rectangular. At each of the four corners stands turret. Each of the four sides is pierced by a gate. The Meridian Gate (wumen) is at the south side. It is the front door of The Palace Museum. The east door is Donghuamen; the west door is Xihuamen; the north door is the Gate of Devine Might.

The Palace Museum was built from 1406 to 1420 by the third Ming emperor Yongle (Zhudi) who decided to move his capital north from Nanjing to Beijing. Measuring 961 meters from north to south and 753 meters from east to west, the Palace Museum covers an area of 725,000 square meters. The buildings occupy 155,000 square meters. It was said that the Palace Museum had 9999.5 rooms in total. You may be curious about how does the half room come out. According to the myth, god has 10000 rooms in his palace. As the emperor claimed he was the son of god, he should show the respect of god, so he could not own the same number of rooms. But he wanted to show he was superior to others, at the end he compromised to reduce half room. There is a vivid explanation describing the large number of rooms in the Palace Museum – if a person every day lived in a different room in the Palace Museum since he or she was born, it would take 27 years to find oneself in the same room. In fact the real number of rooms in the Palace Museum is 8704, according to the survey made by experts in 1973. The Palace Museum is surrounded by 12-meter high and 3400-meter long walls. Outside of the walls, there is a 52-meter wide moat. All of those form a well-protected fortress.

The Palace Museum Attractions

The Gate of Devine Might

The Hall of Supreme Harmony

Palace of Heavenly Purity

Zhenfei Well

The Imperial Garden

The Palace Museum Story

1.   Cold Palace

Before introducing ‘Cold Palace’, first we should know ‘Sangong and Liuyuan’ which is the inner court of the Palace Museum. ‘Sangong’ refers to the Palace of Heavenly Purity, the Hall of Jiaotai and Palace of Kunning. ‘Liuyuan’ refers to the eastern six smaller palaces and the western six smaller palaces of ‘Sangong’. Emperor could have many wives. ‘Sangong and Liuyuan’ is where his wives lived. If some wives lost his love, he would locate them in the ‘Cold Palace’ and not allow them to leave it until he wanted to see them. There was no certain building named ‘Cold Palace’. It could be any building which was remote and shabby. It was said that there used to be several ‘Cold Palaces’ during Ming and Qing dynasties.

2.   There is no tree in the three halls

The Hall of Supreme Harmony, the Hall of Central Harmony, and the Hall of Preserving Harmony are called as the three halls in the outer court. The three halls is the places where emperor holding ceremonies. The three halls are located in the center of the Palace Museum; they are also the heart of Beijing. Architects used different methods to highlight the majesty of the three halls. No trees were allowed to be planted in the yard. When people went to visit emperor, through many magnificent buildings, their sublimity was increasing. And when they arrived at the three majestic halls and the extensive yard without tree, the sublimity would reach the peak. Then when they met with emperor, they would be more careful about their behavior and words and more afraid of emperor. That what the emperor wanted. If the Palace Museum was full of trees and birds singing in them, the majestic atmosphere would disappear.

The second reason why there are no trees in the any of the halls is that emperor belongs to the ‘earth’ in the five elements (in ancient China, people believed all the objects in the world can be classified in to the five elements. They are water, fire, gold, wood and earth. The five elements complement and restrict each other). ‘Wood’ restricts ‘earth’. So emperor would not allow his place having trees.

The third reason is to assure the safety of emperor and officials, as assassins could hide in the tress.

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