Have you ever been forbidden to do something? Of course you have! It's only natural for parents to forbid certain activities for your safety.

Would you believe that there was a place in China that was forbidden for hundreds of years? It's true! It was called the Forbidden City. Today, it's no longer forbidden, so let's see what the big secret was all about!

Built between 1406 and 1420, the Forbidden City served as the Chinese imperial palace for almost 500 years. Emperors from the Ming Dynasty to the Qing Dynasty used the complex in the middle of Beijing as the center of Chinese government.

You might be wondering why it's called the Forbidden City if it was actually an imperial palace. This was no ordinary palace! Instead of one big building, the Forbidden City consisted of almost 1,000 buildings that covered almost 8 million square feet!

The name “Forbidden City" comes from the Chinese phrase Zijin Cheng, which means “Purple Forbidden City." The color purple referred to the North Star. In Chinese astrology, the North Star was the home of the Celestial Emperor.

The Forbidden City was thus the earthly counterpart: the home of the earthly emperor. It was “forbidden" because it was a walled city that no one could enter without permission from the emperor.

The Forbidden City was home to 24 different emperors. When Puyi, the last Emperor of China, gave up his position in 1912, the Forbidden City was no longer the political center of China.

The Forbidden City remains one of the best examples in the world of traditional Chinese palatial architecture. Its designs have influenced architects around the world for hundreds of years.

The Forbidden City is enclosed by a 26-foot-high wall and a moat that is over 170 feet wide and over 20 feet deep. The walls are almost 30 feet wide at their base. These features helped the emperors feel safe within the Forbidden City.

The overall design of the Forbidden City reflects the religious and philosophical principles of the ancient Chinese emperors. For example, yellow was the color of the Emperor, so almost all roofs in the Forbidden City were covered with yellow glazed tiles.

In 1987, the Forbidden City was declared a World Heritage Site. It's still one of the largest collections of ancient wooden structures in the world.

Today, the Forbidden City is home to the Palace Museum. The museum's collection of over 1 million rare Chinese artworks and artifacts comes primarily from the Ming and Qing dynasties that used to call the Forbidden City home.

Wonder What's Next?

Bring your appetite! Tomorrow we’ll be serving up a big helping of Wonder!