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Forbidden no more – Beijing’s city within

May 28, 2009

At the time of China’s last Emperor, the city within Beijing famously known as the Forbidden City, housed only the elite of the elite. Hidden behind high walls and well-guarded gates, courtesans and royalty lived not only a privileged lifestyle, but an unreal one. Until Japan came calling and dethroned a young emperor.

Since then imperialism has given way to communism, which has been reshaped into a new form of “socialism”; and the Forbidden City is no longer off limits.  In celebration of the Peoples Republic, the once forbidden secret world behind high walls has opened its gates to tourists, touts, and curious locals. Each year thousands of visitors come to see this large historical empty city.

by Cate

by Cate

Practically every Asian country has an imperial palace of some grandeur. But China’s palace is the biggest and oldest; and busiest. It stands gleaming under the hot sun, offering visitors very little in shade and seating. Instead it gives newcomers to Chinese culture, insight into its imperial history, art, architecture and past glory.

by Cate

by Cate

Artifacts and furnishings in the chambers and rooms may appear simple as most treasures have  moved to the museum. Take a walk around the grounds at a slower than usual pace, and small objects of interest will appear. Steps, bridges, urns, even cauldron handles have some form of ornamentation.

by Cate

by Cate

With the downfall of the emperor and the rise of communism, Mao may have envisaged opening the Forbidden City up to his people at some point in the future, but did he expect this historical wonder to end up being a huge money earner that it has become? Visitors worldwide come to marvel and photograph this city, young couples photograph themselves in front of the gate: tired monks rest beneath him.

by Cate

by Cate

Ironic really; would Mao be smiling or turning in his grave?

Dear Readers thanks for following. I see none of my email posts made it onto my blog. Whether there were glitches in the email system or some odd form of censorship in China, I’ll never know. But I’m back in action with some good posts coming up and an introduction into my new life here in the US.


Caffeinated Traveller

  1. Jas permalink
    May 29, 2009 1:56 pm

    Welcome to the States. The Forbidden City looks much different than I remember it. but it was undergoing renovation at the time. I believe I stayed less than 15 minutes. It might have been the Starbucks that was actually in one of the structures that turned me off. I understand that that particular Starbucks closed back in 2007. It had opened in 2000 to help raise money to maintain the 178-acre complex. But thanks to protest about how it diminshed Chinese culture, it was changed to the Palace Museum brand name. The Chinese thought it was inappropriate. So did I.

    Never a shortage of LV bags 🙂

  2. May 29, 2009 4:52 pm

    Thanks for the ‘history lesson’ and the beautiful pictures!

    “…would Mao be smiling or turning in his grave?” Good question. The answer to that I’d be curious to know.

  3. May 30, 2009 12:31 am

    You made it! ~Hope you’re settling in and finding great places to explore.

    Fascinating post. And I love your second photo -captivating!

  4. May 30, 2009 10:26 pm

    Jas – thanks, it’s good to be settled for a while. Yes the Starbucks has been taken out as a result of Chinese protest and I can understand why. Too bad they didn’t remove all the annoying touts that hang around.

    Erica – you are welcome!

    Heather – yes I made it! I also like this picture. Wished the last one turned out better, but I had to grab the shot before the monks took off.

  5. June 7, 2009 12:36 am

    Great post! It really is an amazing place to explore … i really like the photo of the monks sitting out front of the palace … nice!

  6. June 9, 2009 12:51 pm

    Thanks Trent, it means a lot coming from a talented photographer like you.

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