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FORBIDDEN CITY (紫禁城)

(In front of the meridian gate)

Ladies and Gentlemen:

I am pleased to serve as your guide today.

This is the palace museum; also know as the Purple Forbidden City. It is the largest and most well reserved imperial residence in China today. Under Ming Emperor Yongle, construction began in 1406. It took 14years to build the

Forbidden City. The first ruler who actually lived here was Ming Emperor Zhudi. For five centuries thereafter, it continued to be the residence of23 successive emperors until 1911 when Qing Emperor Puyi was forced to abdicate the throne. In 1987, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization recognized the Forbidden City was a world cultural legacy. It is believed that the Palace Museum, or Zi Jin Cheng (Purple Forbidden City), got its name from astronomy folklore, The ancient astronomers divided the constellations into groups and centered them around the Ziwei Yuan (North Star) . The constellation containing the North Star was called the Constellation of Heavenly God and star itself was called the purple palace. Because the emperor was supposedly the son of the heavenly gods, his central and

dominant position would be further highlighted the use of the word purple in the name of his residence. In folklore, the term “an eastern purple cloud is drifting” became a metaphor for auspicious events after a purple cloud was seen drifting eastward immediately before the arrival of an ancient philosopher, LaoZi, to the Hanghu Pass. Here, purple is associated with auspicious developments. The word jin (forbidden) is self-explanatory as the imperial palace was heavily guarded and off-explanatory as the imperial palace was heavily guarded and off-limits to ordinary people.

The red and yellow used on the palace walls and roofs are also symbolic. Red represents happiness, good fortune and wealth. Yellow is the color of the earth on the Loess Plateau, the original home of the Chinese people. Yellow became an imperial color during the Tang dynasty, when only members of the royal family were allowed to wear it and use it in their architecture.

The Forbidden City is rectangular in shape. It is 960 meters long from north to south and 750 meter wide from east west. It has 9,900 rooms under a total

roof area 150,000 square meters. A 52-meter-wide-moat encircles a 9. 9-meter —high wall which encloses the complex. Octagon —shaped turrets rest on the four corners of the wall. There are four entrances into the city: the Meridian Gate to the south, the Shenwu Gate (Gate of Military Prowess) to the north, and the Xihua Gate (Gate of military Prowess) to the north, and the Xihua Gate (Western Flowery Gate ) to the west, the Donghua (Eastern Flowery Gate) to the east.

Manpower and materials throughout the country were used to build the Forbidden City. A total of 230,000 artisans and one million laborers were employed. Marble was quarried from fangshan Country Mount Pan in Jixian County in Hebei Province. Granite was quarried in Quyang County in Hebei Province. Paving blocks were fired in kilns in Suzhou in southern China. Bricks and scarlet pigmentation used on the palatial walls came from linqing in Shandong Province. Timber was cut, processed and hauled from the northwestern and southern regions.

(Inside the South Gate of the Temple of Heaven)

Ladies and Gentlemen:

Welcome to the temple of Heaven. (After self-introduction) preserved

cultural heritages of China. There are basically two kinds of visitors who come here: local pensioners who do exercises here in the morning and evening and sightseers both from home and abroad. All in all, there are 12 million visitors very year. Now we are going to go along the route that leads to the alter. It will take roughly one hour. Mind you, the emperor also walked along this route to pay tribute to the God of Heaven.

(Along the Southern Sacred Road leading to the Circular Mound Altar) The largest group of architectures ever to be dedicated to Heaven, the Temple of Heaven served as an exclusive altar for Chinese monarchs during the Ming and Qing dynasties. It was decreed that rulers of successive

dynasties would place altars in their own capitals to worship Heaven and pray for good harvest. But why?

The ancient Chinese believed that Heaven was the supreme ruler of the universe and the fate of mankind, and thus worshiping rites dedicated to Heaven came into being. The Heaven the ancient Chinese referred to was actually the Universe, or nature. In those days, there were specific rites of worship. This was especially true during the Ming and Qing dynasties when elaborate ceremonies were held.

The Temple of Heaven was built in 1420 during the reign of Emperor

Yongle of the Ming Dynasty. Situated in the southern part of the city, this grand set of structures covers an area of 273 hectares. To better symbolize heaven and earth, the northern part of the Temple is circular while the southern part is square. The whole compound is enclosed by two walls, a square wall outside a round one. The outer area is characterized by suburban scenery, while the inner part is used for sacrifices. The inner enclosure consists of the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest and the Circular Mound Altar.

(Along the Imperial Passage leading from the Southern Lattice Star Gate in front of the Circular Mound Altar)

The Circular Mound Altar is enclosed by two walls, each containing four groups of Southern Lattice Star Gate, each in turn consisting of three doors, with 24 marble doors altogether. Standing on the passage facing north, you will notice that with each pair of doors on is narrower than the other. This

reflects the feudal hierarchy: the wider door was reserved for monarchs, while the narrower one was used by courtiers.

On the day of the ceremony, the emperor would don his ritual costume and be ushered in by the official in charge of religious affairs. He ascended the three terraces in the forefront to pay tribute at the alter.

(Atop the Circular Mound Alter)

we are now on the top terrace of the Altar, or the third terrace. Each terrace has a flight of 9 steps. At the center of this terrace lies a round stone surrounded by 9 steps. At the center of this terrace lies a round stone

surrounded by 9 concentric rings of stone. The number of stones in the first ring is 9, in the second, 18, up to 81 in the 9th ring. Even the number of carved balustrades on these terraces is a multiple of 9. But why?