#951 The Forbidden City, Beijing, China

For a palace to be so large, so elaborate, and remain so complete after 500 years in the middle of a booming urban landscape is incredible. The Forbidden City is a relic of a imperial China that has surprisingly remained in Communist China, and sits right beside Tiananmen Square. It's easy to lose count of the number of courtyards and entrances, and this is because it is meant to have 9999.5 rooms, half a room less than the gods.

Labelled forbidden because on the Royal Family and their servants were allowed to enter the inner areas, and it's continued use from the 1400s means that it is the finest example of imperial architecture that exists in China. While most of the 800 buildings were built in the 18th century, it is so large that it takes decades to complete a renovation of the massive site. Burned to the ground by the Mongols in 1644, and parts burned by eunuchs covering theft of palace riches in 1923, the large decorated copper vats (which once had water in them) scattered around were necessary fire-prevention.

Home of 14 Ming emperors and 10 Qing emperors, many celebrated important events in the Hall of Supreme Harmony (the largest building in the complex), with the decorations of 13844 dragons, while living in the Palace of Heavenly Purity, although the Palace of Earthly Tranquility was also an important part (home to Ming empresses and site of the nuptial chamber for Qing emperors).

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