Saturday, January 4, 2014

to the Forbidden City

Break is rolling to an end and we managed to escape for a final outing - the Forbidden City. Fortunately, the only thing forbidden these days is children so we had to leave ours behind in order to tour. Just kidding - Xian and Sage wanted to spend a bit of time with Li Xin before the end of the break so she came on over for the day. As almost all of the days during the break, we were treated to beautiful blue skies and few people to jostle about.

Crossing the moat
When we attempted to visit during the October holiday, so many people also wanted into the city that we gave up before reaching the moat. This time, few people joined us as we crossed the partially frozen body of water.

The key word for this visit is vast. Everything is so huge. We walked and walked to pass through the entrance walls. Then, massive courtyards greeted us and we again passed beneath extensive walls to more courtyards.

The center portion of the stair case features intricate stone carvings of dragons. The courtyard expands from the center line as the city is almost symmetrical. Most people moved forward along the straight lines from one temple area to another. Maybe we all felt intimated by the sheer size of the spaces. Would stepping off the large pavers put you into an immense emptiness? We wandered off for a few photos but scurried back before being swallowed up.

I find it fascinating to think about life in the Forbidden City during the heyday of the emperors. The common person would be put to death if he entered yet did people who work there never get the opportunity to step outside of the walls? How did materials move about? Where did water come from? 

The ornate rooftops were everywhere as rounded cylinders guide rainfall down.  Below, a male lion guards an entrance to a temple. On the other side of the walkway, a female dragon is also present. These two guardians are present together and represent both the completeness of the emperor's rule (lion hand over the globe) and the maternal side of ruling (mother lion with child).

Doorways beckon from afar. What kind of intrigue takes place behind the doors? Some are open and some are closed. Doors lead to more doors which lead to...?

Huge vats were present throughout the temple areas. Apparently these held water. It would be a bad day if you were asked to fill up a vat from the moat. How many back and forth trips would that be?

Stormwater system.

A western girl in the Forbidden City

We entered on the southern side of the City and as we moved north, we eventually reached the garden area. This was my favorite as a complete sense of calmness came over the area. From the wide open spaces, trees and rocks suddenly closed in the vistas.

We exited facing north to see this large hill. It was constructed from the fill that resulted in digging out the moat of the city. Another trip of ours will be to wander through this park and take in the sights.

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