Top 10 Little-Known Facts about the Forbidden City

The Forbidden City, also known as the Palace Museum, is a must-see in Beijing. It is not only a tourist spot, but also a museum full of treasures. Forbidden City is so big that most people can only get a cursory glance at the spectacular place upon their first visit. However, one visit is far from enough to know the Forbidden City, as there is too much to see and feel here. There are also some things about the Forbidden City that you may not know about.

Top 10 Little-Known Facts about the Forbidden City

No. 1: A couplet was found hidden behind a painting at the Palace of Earthly Tranquility (Kunning Gong).

Recently, when employees at the Forbidden City were taking down an ancient painting by a Qing Dynasty painter Gu Quan from a wall in Kunning Gong for repair, a couplet was found hidden behind the painting. The horizontal hanging scroll of the couplet was confirmed to be written by Emperor Xianfeng of the Qing Dynasty. Experts claim that the couplet should be the original item set in the room as it coincides with the overall decoration inside the room. This area is now half-open to the public, so you can have a look at the couplet through the window.

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No. 2: The newly found scripts by Emperor Qianlong total 28,000.

When employees were sorting out the relics in the Forbidden City, they accidentally found two large boxes filled with numerous scripts. Through identification by experts, they were found to be the writings of Emperor Qianlong from the Qing Dynasty. It was such a large amount that the employees were all surprised. This particular collection shows how productive and diligent Emperor Qianlong was. Get ready to see Emperor Qianlong’s authentic signature, which you can never see anywhere else.

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No. 3: Collections at the Taipei Palace Museum mostly come from the Palace Museum in Beijing.

According to statistics, as of March 31 this year, the collections at the Taipei Palace Museum have totaled 696,112 pieces. Among them, 597,556 pieces, that is 85.8%, are from the Palace Museum in Beijing.

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No. 4: The Forbidden City is not only a tourist spot, but more of a real museum.

During recent years, the Forbidden City has had around 45 exhibitions each year, and the items exhibited total nearly 10,000 pieces. So take your time, and enjoy the precious exhibitions.

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No. 5: There is a rule at the Forbidden City that painting and calligraphy collections have to “rest” for three years after they are exhibited once, and even the curator cannot take out the collections.

So cherish each opportunity by enjoying the painting and calligraphy exhibitions, because it will be three years before you can see them again.

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No. 6: The overall repair of the Forbidden City is not an ordinary construction job, but a cultural inheritance project requiring great intelligence.

Take the repair of Juanqinzhai in Qianlong Garden for example. There is a magnificent large painting at the top of a drama stage which needs repairing. Employees found that it was pasted up on a kind of special paper material made with some grass from a mountainous area in Anhui province. Restoration experts even went to Anhui and asked local craftsmen for help, and through repeated research and practice, the special material was finally manufactured and transported to the Forbidden City. The repair of Juanqinzhai took seven years and was accompanied by great deal of research and the knowledge of traditional skills. Now the restoration experts will know the formula when it needs to be repaired again.

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No. 7: People can view the restoration process of cultural relics in the future.

The Forbidden City is building a cultural relic repair and protection center in its north center in the suburb area of Beijing. The center is designed to occupy an area of 20,000 square meters, and 5,000 square meters will be open to the public to show the relic restoration process.

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No. 8: Interpretation device in the Forbidden City has many versions.

Have you ever used the automatic interpretation device in the Forbidden City? It is said to include 40 languages or dialects, and also features different personalized versions for visitors, such as a specialist edition, story edition, junior edition and dialogue edition. If you haven’t tried one, then rent one and choose your favorite channel to guide your Forbidden City trip.

No. 9: Visitors can walk along the defensive wall to enjoy a broader view of Forbidden City in the near feature.

The newly renovated Donghua Gate (Donghuamen), the East Gate of the Forbidden City, will be used as an exhibition area for ancient architecture and will specialize in displaying the spectacular ancient building complex and ancient cultural relics. A section of the defensive wall will be open in September 2015, you will be able to climb onto the Donghua Gate Tower then and walk along the defensive wall to enjoy a broader view of the ancient complex.

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No. 10: Cats play an important role in guarding the Forbidden City.

Cats have been living inside the palace since ancient times for probably 600 years, and some of the cats now are direct descendents of the original palace cats, while the rest are stray cats that have been taken in by the museum staff. The cats have played an important role in protecting the precious antiques, according to the museum staff. Though rarely seen by visitors, a total of 181 cats patrol the Forbidden City at night to guard against rats and are considered the cutest employees of the museum by Internet users. So next time when you see a strolling cat in the Forbidden City, be nice to it, as it may be a descendent of an original palace cat.

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