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AD Classics: Forbidden City / Kuai Xiang

As the heart of Imperial China from 1421 until 1912, the Forbidden City—a palatial complex in the center of Beijing—represented the divine authority of the Emperors of China for over five hundred years. Built by the Ming Emperor Zhu Di as the centerpiece of his ideal capital city, the palace would host twenty-four different emperors and two dynasties over the course of its history. Even after the subsequent democratic and communist revolutions that transformed China in the early 20th Century, it remains as the most prominent built relic of a cosmopolitan empire.[1]

A scale model of the Forbidden City, viewed facing south. ImageCourtesy of Flickr user Can Pac Swire (licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0)The golden tiles of the roof, the ends of which were adorned with auspicious icons and characters, were a key symbol of the Forbidden City’s imperial status. ImageCourtesy of Flickr user See-ming Lee (licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0)The Meridian Gate, through which visitors would pass on their way to an audience with the emperor. ImageCourtesy of Wikimedia user Jorge Lascar (licensed under CC BY 2.0)The Hall of Supreme Harmony viewed from the south. ImageCourtesy of Wikimedia user Daniel Case (licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0)+ 10