Saturday morning we awoke to an even smoggier day, but decided to continue with our plans to see Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City. Unfortunately, we found the smog obscuring Tiananmen Square, so we couldn’t really see anything. Thankfully we were still able to experience the grounds of the Forbidden City, the imperial palace for over five centuries, known today as the Palace Museum.
To get onto the grounds we had to pass through two layers of security, first from the metro station tunnel, and then again at the gates of the site. Tickets were easy to obtain just to the left of the main entrance, and we found maps in a variety of languages at a kiosk just inside. Your first view past the gates is quite impressive and provides an imperial ‘wow’ moment just as intended.
There are hundreds of details in and around each building: water cisterns for fighting fires, statues, carvings, etc.
We continued through the several layers of the complex, each successive courtyard getting a little smaller, but the buildings becoming even more ornate as we approached the royal living quarters.
We also explored some of the side buildings, including the Pavilion of Literary Profundity, one of the catchiest names we experienced on this trip.
Directional signs wanted us to exit to the north, but that was a long walk from the metro, so we circled back toward the south and took the east exit instead. One of our last views was a pretty canal running near the outer walls:
The Palace Museum is an immense site with hundreds of buildings for which it is justifiably famous – even give the cold conditions and air quality it was still a memorable experience.