Even after hundreds of years, this palace remains the center point of Bejing's world.The sprawl of snarling streets radiates out in concentric patterns from its most historic and cherished point, and fortified palace walls have evolved into towering highway overpasses.
Aside from its sheer size, the intricate detailing that covers every piece of wood, brass, and stone is what captured me while exploring the Forbidden City of Beijing. A true gem of Chinese palatial architecture; the city was completed in 1420 and consists of 980 buildings covering 72 hectares of land. Even after hundreds of years, this palace remains the center point of Bejing's world.
Golden foo dogs and oxidized bronze lions stand guard upon red, gold, turquoise, and cobalt backdrops. Stone fountains sit motionless, without water to run through them. The Imperial Garden floods you with greenery and you begin to understand why it sits beyond the Gate of Terrestrial Tranquility.
"I quite enjoyed the garden. It provided a moment of calm amidst the clamor of visitors scrambling with their cameras, pushing to see the sights."
People took moments to relax; I laid inside a pagoda alongside a woman in a Hijab. We exchanged curious glances and she eventually slinked over to ask if I would take a photo with her. Being a nearly 6-foot tall white woman, I stand out quite a bit and happily obliged.
As the sun began to set to a warm pink light, the gold of the palace was at its most beautiful. I recommend visiting later in the day as crows disperse and staff begin to shuffle visitors out; your views will be free of straggling tour attendees and lost toddlers. But most importantly, allow yourself a minimum of 3 hours to see the city. You won't even scratch the surface of this amazing time capsule of Chinese history.
As a traveler who has seen a handful of Asian cities and fell completely in love with every single one of them, Beijing left a lot to be desired. The city left me feeling unusually lost and isolated. This all faded when we made our first few steps into one of the Hutongs.
5 SCAMS TO AVOID IN CHINA