Where We Be
Freshly painted for the 2008 Summer Olympics, the central
buildings of the Forbidden City are stunningly crisp and beautiful
The Forbidden City
Walking through the Gate of Heavenly Peace at
the very center of Beijing, you enter into the
Forbidden City. “Gate” may give you the wrong
idea, though, since it is more like an elaborate
red building with a tunnel through the middle.
We pass through a series of these grandiose
gates and enormous courtyards before
entering into the heart of the Forbidden City.

This incredibly photogenic place served as
home to 24 Chinese emperors over the nearly
500 years between 1420 and 1911. Our overall
impression is of lovely tiled golden roofs and
incredible attention to detail. Every stone post
is beautifully carved. The wooden beams criss-
crossing the ceilings of the covered walkways
are intricately painted in multiple colors.

We have plenty of time to explore the hidden
nooks and crannies inside this enormous
series of buildings, said to contain 9,999 rooms.
My favorite thing is wandering into some of the
less-visited side corridors and courtyards
where all is quiet and you can get a sense of
the serene majesty of the place. We find some
lovely empty courtyards to wander in, and you
can almost feel the ghost of Puyi, last emperor
of China, wandering through them with you.
Less visited courtyards like this one are fun to wander through for their sense of quietness and serenity
Carved water spouts help to prevent flooding in the Inner Court
It took a million workers to build the Forbidden City -- and when you see all the detail and fine craftsmanship, you can understand why
We were blown away by the intricately painted ceiling beams
Everything here is built with style and elegance -- not to mention a brilliant sense of color
Whole logs of precious wood were shipped from southwestern China to build the imperial city
This is the largest collection of preserved wooden structures in the world according to UNESCO
Thankfully our tour guide gave us plenty of  time to wander on our own -- or else we might have missed our bus on purpose!
These ceramic roof decorations provide a quick sense of the building's status. The more mythical beasts, the higher the status level.
One of the throne rooms in the Forbidden Palace
The imperial city was built during the height of the Ming Dynasty from 1406 to 1420
This side corridor hasn't been freshly repainted, but it has a muted beauty all its own
The Hall of Supreme Harmony, the centerpiece of the Forbidden City, is completely covered
in scaffolding. It’s clear the Chinese are working feverishly to get everything ready by 2008.
Looking back at the Meridian Gate, front entrance to the Forbidden City. The word "gate" hardly does it justice!
The 7.8 million square foot complex consists of 980 buildings and 8,886 bays of rooms, so it isn't too hard to find a spot with almost no tourists
Yelllow is the color of the Emperor, so almost all the
roofs in the Forbidden City use yellow glazed tiles
Imagine the painstaking effort it must
have taken to repaint these to perfection
Wow! What a bold use of color and design!
Getting lost on purpose is half the fun of wandering through this complex. Hmm, wonder where this door leads?
Yet another lovely decorative element
Glazed building decorations add touches of beauty throughout
Nested arches make for a lovely picture
Robin can't resist toasting her hands