Walking inside the Forbidden City felt like walking through a movie (The Last Emperor perhaps). Everything surrounding us was decorated in such detail. On every building there were gold leaf dragons which represent the symbol of the emperor. In order for the dragon to signify the emperor, the dragon must have five toes on their back feet. Also etched in gold leaf was a phoenix, symbolizing the empress. Together both symbols represent the imperial power. So make sure to look for this detail when you head to the Forbidden City.
I was surprised to see how large the city was. It seemed endless. All the courtyards looked identical in their peaceful symmetry, but each one held special meaning. There was so much to see while visiting. We mostly just walked through and gazed upon the main sites before moving on.
One area of the Forbidden City that we did see was the concubine quarters. The concubines for the king were placed in the concubine quarters and would live in the walls of the city for the rest of their lives even if the emperor did not want them anymore. They were considered his property and had to stay within the walls. There was a special area, outside the concubine quarters, for them to go to once their services were no longer needed. Inside the quarters, the emperor’s current concubines waited to be called upon. It was considered an honor to have your daughter chosen as a concubine. The emperor’s men wanted this honor so they would force their daughters to try to become one. We were told that one emperor could have up to 300 concubines at once. That was too many for him to keep track of so someone’s job was to keep track of the concubines for him.
Even though it was crowed with visitors, one of my favorite places in the Forbidden city was the Imperial Garden because you could feel peace and relaxation surrounding you. It was beautiful.