Starting at the South Gate and Main Ceremonial Gate to the actual Forbidden City, the Meridian Gate - Wumen and moving east and north along the outside perimeter walls one soon comes to first passes the North-Western Gate into the Imperial Ancestral Temple. The lay-out of this part of the Palace has been slightly altered from its historical lay-out, as this Gate was originally not here, but placed more Southernly. Passing the usual bunch of taxi's and small vehicles and a Rickshaw-Stand, the South Palace Moat is just a few steps beyond. Follow the Moat to the Eastern Flowery Gate, a pleasant walk away from City crowding and noise, in day-time or in the evenings when all towers are lit.
When at a further distance look back at WuMen - Gate of the Meridian but the Gate and view its 5 highly decorative towers built on Top of the Gate Platform.
The Eastern Gate and Entry to the Gugong Dong Hua Men, or East Flowery Gate (some say Gate of Eastern Glory). Today the Gate for the Park Administrators, not the Public, in the later days of China's Qing (Ching) Dynasty, around 1911 and after, this gate was in much use, as the Southern Half of the Forbidden City had been occupied the forces and Governement of the First Republic of China, leaving only 3 gates to visit the Imperial Court. Located just North of the so called "Foreign Legation quarter ", which by then had been turned into a Bastion of the European Invaders, this was the Palace Gate favored by many a Ambassador. More and more the Ambassadors would wind up at the South Gate, and after the second abdication of Qing Dynasty Emperor Hsuan Tung (Pu Yi) the imperial court slowly but surely cobled to its demise. They were finally removed from the
The further one moves away from it, the clearer Wu Men's special design can be appreciated. It is truely a Massive Gate.
And the Walls are no less impressive. Inspect them up close, if you like, as these (south-west and south-east) are the stretches where the wall can be approached closest. Looking up one can get some feeling of the awe historic Chinese citizen's would have felt for the "Da Nei" (Great Within), a mythical area, impenetrable even to the eye. The Palace Museum Walls also give a good idea of how the former City Walls must have looked, before they sadly were almost completely torn down in the 1950's. The last remaining remnants of the city wall in the south of the City are QianMen and ShenyangMen at the South of TiananMen Square, the Ming Dynasty City Walls Park
Wu Men is easily recognized by these 5 Towers and also known as Five Phoenix Tower. Use the caracteristic architecture of Wu Men for your easy navigation around the grounds, when in the southern half of the Palace (almost all other roofings look alike). The Corner Watch-towers are of course also useful to this end.
-Mouse Over Image -
Turning the corner it is only a short Walk to huge Dong Hua Men, East Gate. One of the Main Ceremonial Gates to the Palace, entry here is not permitted to the Public. In fact the Gate is almost continually closed accept for odd occassions. Even then it is only possible to take a few steps inside. It is not possible to see the traditional white marble stepping stone, used for dismounting the horse and a rare relic of the past, which should be located at this Gate (according to sources). Beyond Dong Hua Men, inside the Palace Grounds lie the Palace Museum administration buildings. This area of the Palace, everything south of the 9 Dragon Screen and the South Three Abodes in the Eastern Section, is occupied by the Museum Administration and not open to the public. Find the park administrators cars parked on the small strip of land between Wall & Moat, leading North from Dong Hua Men. You could sneak in there but there is nothing to find.
Taking a nice nap in the afternoon sun using your little cart as a pillow is one of the many calming sights one can find beneath the South-East corner watchtower. This is an excellent scenic spot.
Other, less charming distractions are the ever present rickshaw drivers
and simply annoying watch- and
trinkets-peddlers. Yes, they know its a tourist and romantic spot, too. Being a foreigner used to put one immediately in the crossfire.
away. There is a lot of Space here to get lost in. Fishing is permitted in the Palace Moat. Relax at the corner watch-tower or East-Gate and throw out a line? Or just see what the locals can catch. This
is not a favored spot, but many try their catch at Dong Hua Men and the North-Eastern Watchtower.
Stretching to Look up at Meridian Gate flank.The distinct 3-tiered Roofs of the 5 Towers on the Gate make it an extra Impressive sight.
This page was last updated on: June 23, 2017
The Imperial Palace Museum
- The Palace Walls South and East -
- Mouse over Image -
Looking back at the southern Palace Moat and South-East watchtower resembling a Chinese Bird Cage.
DongHuaMen , the Eastern Flowery Gate seen from its Eastern approach. There are some small shops, a pirate-DVD store. In the evening the Gate is Lit by Giant Flood-lights turning it into a solemn and magnificient spectacle.
Feel small as an Imperial Citizen while strolling along the Massive Palace Walls with their battlements.
Beyond the Wumen or Gate of the Meridian lies the Palace Moat which has the shape of a large and tranquil Pond at this particular point. Leaving behind a busy square in front of Wu Men the bustle and noise rapidly dies down here. Continue along the Moat and Beijing's first ring road, the one along the Palace Wall, and end up at Dong Hua Men - East Gate (Dong=East).
Beijing's "First Ring Road" at the South-Eastern Watch-Tower. Take your bicycle for a spin around the Palace if you like (skating is not advised).
Hmm- Almost like old times? An old beggar sleeps on his Cart beneath The Palace Walls.
The peculiar Chinese Bird-Cage like look and architecture of the Forbidden City Corner watchtowers. The South towers are the most closely approachable.
This is one reason you shouldn't try skate around the Palace, the other is the dangerous and random traffic of Beijing.
Looking along the Palace Walls with Dong Hua Men in view to the North. This route is also open in the evening.
These Walls are the border of Inner-Most Imperial City. There was an outer Imperial City (see Maps), after which the City Walls of DongCheng (listed above) followed. This location is a part of what was once the Old "Tartar" City, left over from the Mongol Kublai's and retained by the Han Ming Dynasty. A Third City Wall was later added around the outlying trading villages, later districts of Xuanwu and Fengtai. These two southern districts, with Liu Lichang and Dashilan Streets at their heart, would become the economic and Central Business District of the Imperial City.
Following along the Walls and the Gugong Perimeter we move slowly further East to the corner Watch tower.
As one will find, large parts of the Palace Museum perimeter are accessible for strolls and walks. However, the first ring road around the walls is a drive-way which can sometimes be jammed with taxis and mini-busses.
Although private cars are now banned from passing along this route, their place has now been taken by electrical buses shuttling lazy or weary sightseeers between the east, south and west gates.
The clogging of the road happens mainly during the tourist season when massive numbers of tour-groups must be dropped off at the South Gate by tour operators while everyone else heads towards the Palace on their own account, not necessarily in order to enter and explore the museum proper.
The South Gugong Perimeter can easily be followed by bicyle which makes for an interesting and unique route and tour of Beijing's inner City. Read all about it in Lonely Planet's Guide on the City. As did DrBen, Lonely Planet's Damian Harper lived some time in the nearby City Hutong and it is obvious from the book that he likes to ride his bicycle. Some other guides also have hiking and bicycling routes helping to explore the City. You could of course also just use our website and pick your own scenic route !
The Beijing Police is rather active at this particular roadway as it is quite naturally not done to go speeding around the Palace. Continuous patrols seem to be part of the Traffic Police's effective answer to the chinese tour-bus or taxi-driver in haste. Rickshaw drivers and Tourists can go all out. The corner provides and excellent spot to control and oversee traffic. Outside tourist seasons this road is much more quiet, and the problem almost disappears overnight, giving way to the usual rustic situation with twittering birds, doves flying and trees rushing in a slight wind.
The architecture of the wooden watch-towers is some of the most complicated within the Palace. Each Tower has 9 roof beams, eighteen pillars and no less than 72 ridge-poles. Each Roof is divided into 3 storeys, the lower one of which has upturned eaves all around complemented by upturned eaves on all four corners. Then each corner itself has 4 triangular ridge-poles. Moving on to the second roof things become even more complicated with vertical poles, making small side-
Webstyle produced NavBar
Webstyle produced NavBar
roofs flanked with gold-guilded decorations. The third and upper roof is less complicated it seems, untill one studies the four dividings of the upper part. Tri-arigular ridge-poles! Try figure it out while you sit here a while.
Walking among history with Magnificent Wu Men - main ceremonial South Gate in the background.
View of the tranquil waters of the Southern Palace Moat, a good stretch for a stroll enjoying the Green and the Architecture.
Illuminated Forbidden City South-Eastern Watchtower and Moat. Wanfujing in the Background.
Golden Details of an Illuminated South-East Corner Watchtower in the evening.
Palace in late 1924 (November 25Th).
Go East from this Gate and find the remnants of the Imperial Cities' Eastern Wall. The Imperial City was larger than the current day Palace Museum, but most evidence of its excistance has been erased by modern constructions in the area. The site only has underground remnants dug up in recent years.
After two more streets Eastward end up at Dong Hua Men Night Market, by now one of Beijing's Tourist Highlights. The night market sells anything that crawls and is edible. DongHuaMen Night Market is located just west off the North End of Wanfujing Shopping Street at Sun Dong An Plaza the Big Mall on the North End of Wanfujing's Shopping Area.