Architecture of the Hall of South Fragrance (Nanxun Dian):
The Hall of South Fragrance is rarely mentioned in any of the many books describing the Palace Museum, let alone that its architecture should be mentioned.
In general it can be said that the Hall of South Fragrance was clearly not intended as another splendid Palace within the Palace. On the contrary, rather it is a collection of low and longitudinal buildings which together with additional minor pavilions make up the complex of the Hall of South Fragrance. Altogether there are 14 individual structures in this section of the western outer court, of which the very long, narrow and rectangular Hall of South Fragrance is by far the largest structure and the obvious Main Hall.
History of the Hall of South Fragrance (Nanxun Dian):
According to the Official information given by the Palace Museum, the Nanxun Dian is the location where the paintings of Emperors of "the Dynasties" (Ming and Qing) were stored.
German builders of the German architectural firm of Curt Rothwegel who were involved the reconstruction of the nearby Palace of Martial Spirit (Wu Ying Dian) into the first form of what would later become the Palace Museum noted how in the early months of 1914 AD, when the first work preparations were taken, the Hall of South Fragrance was the location where the expensive nanmu (rare tropical hardwood) beams of collapsed palaces and pavilions of the "Forbidden City" were collected. As they recalled it in notes left from their project, the wood was piled high in an area "between the Xian'an Gong and Hall of South Fragrance (Nanxun Dian)".
The History and backgrounds of the Hall of South Fragrance are currently under further research by the ChinaReport.com Staff.
The East Gate of Harmony as visible from in front (and south) of the Hall and Gate of Military Spirit, the earliest residential Palace of Zhu Di, the Ming Emperor Yongle who was responsible for much of the design of the old city of Beijing as well as numerous other impressive deeds. The east to west causeway which cuts through the outer court passes in front of the Hall of Military Spirit and leads away to the central court via Xi He Men.
View westward from the East Gate of Harmony along the east-west causeway of the Inner Court. The Gate of Military Spirit (Wu Ying Men) is hidden behind green as is the Hall of South Fragrance on the left (south). In the distance loomes the high tower of the West Flowery Gate (Xi Hua Men), one of the outermost gates of the Palace Museum and since recently in 2011 an official entrance.
The Official schematic Map of The Forbidden City, by The Palace Museum.
View of the Western Gate of Harmony in the Outer Court from the western causeway which connects the Hall of South Fragrance, the Hall of Martial Spirit and the western outer gate, as well as some other structures.
The back walls of the buildings of the southernmost central court lead away southward from the West Gate of Harmony. Beyond the 10 meter high outer wall of the Palace can be seen and visited for a close up inspection. To the right stand the Hall(s) of South Fragrance.
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The Hall of South Fragrance has been open to the visiting public since the year 2011, when several other area's of the Palace Museum were equally made available to the public. Previously unvisited, it is now one of the new and more popular exhibitions of the Palace Museum drawing more visitors to the western outer court as previously.
THE WESTERN ROUTE:
The western hiking route to the Hall of South Fragrance starts out at BeiChang Road (BeiChang Jie) which interestingly is the north to south road which lies exactly between the "Forbidden City" and the adjacent South-Middle-Lake (Zhongnanhai) Complex of the current Communist Party and National leadership. To get to BeiChang Road one can start at the Gate of Heavenly Peace (Tian'An Men) and instead passing through it, walk along the Eternal Peace Avenue
westward until reaching the next Gate in the west, which is the main south Gate into Zhongshan Park, formerly the enclosed space of Altar of Grain and Earth and today is also known as Sun Yat Sen Park. It is largely dedicated to the "father of the Nation Dr. Sun Yat Sen who agitated against the Manchu's of the Qing Dynasty and helped bring about the "First Republic of China".
One could head northward into Sun Yat Sen Park, however the road to BeiChang Jie and beyond the western outer gate of the Forbidden City lies further west. Keep walking due westward from the Gate of Sun
A unique view intoChina's Secluded Leadership compound "ZhongNanHai" - a former Imperial Garden directly connected to Beihai. The former Prison of Emperor Guanxu, since early 1949 the residence of the Political
Headquarters of the Chinese Communist Party Leadership.
Yat Sen Park until reaching the next corner leading away to the north. This is BeiChang Road.
Go passed the Southern main Gate of the Altar of Grain and Earth (Sun Yat Sen Park). The Hall of South Fragrance is situated due north of this location, but as the Sun Yat Sen Park is not connected by a Gate to the Forbidden City and two walls and the moat lie in between, one has to walk around via the western outer gate of the Palace Museum (Xi Hua Men).
The next step is to follow BeiChang Road northward until seeing the heavily guarded East Gate of Zhongnanhai appear to the left (west) and the
Walk north until reaching the intersection and turn right and east towards the walls (and moat!) of the Forbidden City and its western Gate. From here on out the route is simple. Buy a Ticket and gain entrance to the Palace Museum. Then pass through the Western Outer Gate and follow the wide tree lined road leading away from it into the huge Palace grounds. After a short walk the road makes a turn to the right and turns left again. You will now be looking down the spacious outer road
Outer Gate (Dong Hua Men) of the Forbidden City. It is not necessary to go all that way however. The Hall or actually Halls of South Fragrance can be seen immediatly to the south of this wide causeway.
There are several long rectangular structures visible through the greenery. Turn soutward off the road and into the sun to follow the small path down to the collection of buildings that make up the "Hall of South Fragrance (Nanxun Dian)".
Walk up the wide ramp and pass through the Gate to reach the previously described causeway cutting east to west through the western, middle- and eastern outer courts.
From here directions are once again simple.
The Hall of South Fragrance is situated someways down the causeay due West of the West Gate of Harmony (Xihe Men) and to the south of it. Follow the causeway until you find the pathway leading south and towards the Hall of South Fragrance.
After passing through the West Gate of Harmony one can but follow the east-west causeway. Once having descended down the ramp of the Gate one is confronted with an intersection. One roads leads away to the right and north. Another to the
south. Yet further west an additional road opens up to the North.
The first is a similar green road as the one you are on. The second road leads up to white marble bridges and a bright red and decorated gate. This is the Gate of Martial Spirit (Wu Ying Men). Although both places are worth exploring, the Hall of South Fragrance is situated opposite these two and to the left and south of the road.
To get to the Hall of South Fragrance, either turn directly south upon leaving the ramp of West Gate of Harmony, or follow down the road to turn left and south later.