Beijing: 6th May 2014.
Some guidebooks say the Tiananmen Gate leads to the Forbidden City. It doesn’t really; it actually leads to the gate that leads to the Forbidden City. Nevertheless, it was towards the Tiananmen Gate that the crowds headed to see the city that is forbidden no longer.
But, why was it ‘forbidden’? In the past, this was where the Emperor lived; he wasn’t satisfied with a mere palace, he had to have a ‘city within a city’. And, here dwelt his family, his concubines, his court, Government officials, civil and military … the rest of the population was excluded, but still, a sizeable area was needed to house all those who were entitled.
Nowadays, it’s one vast, beautifully preserved museum, where you can admire the exquisite, sometimes extravagant architecture … and even, if you look really hard, find a quiet corner away from the crowds.
I’ve only given a short, thumbnail sketch here, for we only had a couple of hours. I think, though, even if you lived in Beijing, you’d need a considerable time to see it all.
But, it’s not all museum … we found a restaurant, where we had lunch!