The site of the Forbidden City was situated on the Imperial City during the Mongol
Yuan Dynasty. Upon the establishment of the Ming Dynasty, the Hongwu Emperor
moved the capital from Beijing in the north to Nanjing in the south, and ordered that the
Yuan palaces be burnt down. When his son Zhu Di became the Yongle Emperor, he
moved the capital back to Beijing, and construction began in 1406 of what would
become the Forbidden City.
Construction lasted 14 years and required more than a million workers. Material used
include whole logs of precious Phoebe zhennan wood found in the jungles of
south-western China, and large blocks of marble from quarries near Beijing. The floors
of major halls were paved with "golden bricks", specially baked paving bricks from
From 1420 to 1644, the Forbidden City was the seat of the Ming Dynasty. In April
1644, it was captured by rebel forces led by Li Zicheng, who proclaimed himself
emperor of the Shun Dynasty. He soon fled before the combined armies of former
Ming general Wu Sangui and Manchu forces, setting fire to parts of the Forbidden City
in the process. By October, the Manchus had achieved supremacy in northern China,
and a ceremony was held at the Forbidden City to proclaim the young Shunzhi
Emperor as ruler of all China under the Qing Dynasty. The Qing rulers changed the
names on some of the principal buildings, to emphasise "Harmony" rather than
"Supremacy", made the name plates bilingual (Chinese and Manchu), and introduced
Shamanist elements to the palace.
In 1860, during the Second Opium War, Anglo-French forces took control of the
Forbidden City and occupied it until the end of the war. In 1900 Empress Dowager
Cixi fled from the Forbidden City during the Boxer Rebellion, leaving it to be occupied
by forces of the treaty powers until the following year.
The Forbidden City is surrounded by a 26 foot high city wall and a 20 foot deep by
171 feet wide moat. The walls are 28.3 foot wide at the base, tapering to 21.9 feet
at the top.
The Forbidden City
Photographs Taken By Molly Rush
Taken during the course of her visit to China with the Enck Family in Summer, 2013.
The Forbidden City was the Chinese imperial palace from the Ming Dynasty to the end of the Qing Dynasty.
It is located in the centre of Beijing, China, and now houses the Palace Museum. For almost 500 years, it
served as the home of emperors and their households, as well as the ceremonial and political center of
Chinese government.

Built in 1406 to 1420, the complex consists of 980 buildings and covers 7,800,000 sq ft. The palace
complex exemplifies traditional Chinese palatial architecture, and has influenced cultural and
architectural developments in East Asia and elsewhere. The Forbidden City was declared a World Heritage
Site in 1987, and is listed by UNESCO as the largest collection of preserved ancient wooden structures in
the world.