October 17, 2011

Forbidden City

After arriving in Beijing one of the first places I went was the fabled Forbidden City, former home of the manliest Chinese natives. One million workers were needed to construct the walled city, and nowadays almost ten million people visit it annually. I visited on a chilly February afternoon, when the air was crisp and the crowds were sparse. The grandeur and magnificence of the architecture is best enjoyed from atop a hill in Jingshan Park,  located directly behind the moated complex.

Unlike the Great Wall or the Summer Palace, the Forbidden City never managed to take my breath away. After serving as the Chinese imperial palace for 500 years it has now been reconstructed to perfection. Not a hint of character or charm remains in the sprawling compound, which in the past could only be entered or exited with the consent of the emperor. Each room once had a colourful history of its own, but even with a fresh coat of bright red paint they now looked lifeless and dull. I traipsed through several dozen of the Forbidden City's nearly one thousand buildings, turning back when it became repetitive.


"The more things are forbidden, the more popular they become." ~ Mark Twain