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Forbidden City was once a place where Chinese Emperors and their families, staff, and officials lived during the Ming Dynasty to the end of the Qing Dynasty. It took 14 years to build, and consists of nearly 1000 buildings spanning approximately 190 acres in central Beijing, China. It became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987.
See the fact file below for more information on the Forbidden City or alternatively, you can download our 22-page World Heritage Sites: Forbidden City worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
History of Forbidden City
- Forbidden City, known in Chinese as “Zijn Cheng”, was built soon after the Yongle Emperor, Zhu Di, moved the capital from Beijing to Nanjing, which occurred in the 15th century.
- He then made Beijing the secondary capital of the Ming Empire.
- During its construction, 100,000 workers and more than 1 million laborers were employed.
- In April of 1644, Manchu rebel forces led by Li Zicheng captured the Forbidden City, which had been the abode of the Ming Dynasty.
- As a result, all signs and name plates were made bilingual to accommodate for the newly proclaimed Manchu leader. All signs were made in both Chinese and Manchu.
- The Forbidden City became a main epicentre for the Qing Dynasty.
- In 1860, Anglo-French forces seized the Forbidden City and occupied it until the end of the Second Opium War.
- After the abdication of the last Emperor of China (Puyi), the Forbidden City ceased to be the main epicentre in China. This happened in 1912, although Puyi was still allowed to live within the walls of the city until he was expelled by Feng Yuxiang during a coup in 1924.
- In 1949, the People’s Republic of China was proclaimed right in front of the Forbidden City at Tiananmen. Over the next few years, the Forbidden City suffered some damage during the Cultural Revolution from 1966 to 1976.
- UNESCO declared the Forbidden City a World Heritage Site in 1987 as a result of its development of Chinese culture.
Architecture and Layout of Forbidden City
- Forbidden City is shaped as a rectangle and consists of 980 buildings that encompass nearly 9,000 rooms.
- Tiananmen Square, the ceremonial centre in China, is located just outside of the Tiananmen gate to the south.
- The walls surrounding Forbidden City are 26 feet high, and there is a 20 foot-deep by 171 foot wide moat. The walls were built for defense purposes using baked brick and mortar.
- There are 4 towers at each corner of the wall, with 72-ridge roofs on each.
- There is a gate on each side of the wall.
- There is an Outer Court and an Inner Court within the Forbidden City. The Inner Court typically housed the Emperor and his family and was used for day-to-day government affairs.
- The Outer Court included the southern sections and was used predominantly for ceremonial reasons.
- There is a Hall of Supreme Harmony, which was the ceremonial centre, and is the largest surviving wooden structure in all of China.
- The Hall of Central Harmony is a smaller hall, and was used by the Emperor to prepare and rest for such ceremonies. Behind this hall is the Hall of Preserving Harmony, which was used for rehearsals.
- There are a total of Six Western Palaces and Six Eastern Palaces in addition to the several Halls and wings.
- The overall design of the Forbidden City was constructed to reflect deep religious and philosophical principles that symbolize the majesty of Imperial Power. From the chosen colors, to the exact number of tiles and ridges, to the layout of buildings – everything was planned precisely and with a strong reason.
Art & Symbolism of Forbidden City
- As mentioned, the Forbidden City was planned to reflect deep religious and philosophical principles. Below is a chart outlining the main symbolism seen at Forbidden City:
- The color yellow: Yellow is the color of the Emperor. Almost all the roofs are yellow.
- Groups of 3 and 6:
- 3 – There are 3 lines in the shape of the Qian tangram, which represents Heaven in Taoist cosmology.
- 6 – There are 6 lines in the shape of the Ku triagram, which represents Earth.
- Statuettes: The ridges on the roofs are decorated with statuettes; the number of which represent the status of a building. The more statuettes, the more important the building.
- The color black: Black was associated with water and fire prevention
- The color green: Green was associated with wood and growth
- The Forbidden City houses over 1.17 million pieces of art, including colored porcelain, rare books and historical documents, sculptures, over 50,000 paintings, the Shang dynasty’s bronze collection, mechanical timepieces, and rare stones.
- Many pieces of art and sculpture date back to the Tang, Song, Ming, and Qing dynasties, and have a deep symbolic meaning in Chinese religion and philosophy.
World Heritage Sites: Forbidden City Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about Forbidden City across 22 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use World Heritage Sites: Forbidden City worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about the Forbidden City which was once a place where Chinese Emperors and their families, staff, and officials lived during the Ming Dynasty to the end of the Qing Dynasty. It took 14 years to build, and consists of nearly 1000 buildings spanning approximately 190 acres in central Beijing, China. It became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Forbidden City Facts.
- Forbidden City Wordsearch.
- Ming Dynasty Artwork.
- Fact or Myth?
- Forbidden City Crossword.
- Ancient Timeline.
- Opinion Paragraph.
- Symbols at Forbidden City.
- Philosophy Brain Stretch.
- Coloring Page.
- Words Within a Word.
Use With Any Curriculum
These worksheets have been specifically designed for use with any international curriculum. You can use these worksheets as-is, or edit them using Google Slides to make them more specific to your own student ability levels and curriculum standards.