A fabulous adventure stop on your Dream Tour is the Forbidden City. Built in 1420, during the Ming Dynasty, the fabled Forbidden City is without peer. The grounds were the home to twenty-four different Emperors from both the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties. The compound was off limits to ordinary Chinese citizens for over 500 years. Only high government officials and foreign diplomats would have been allowed an audience with the Emperor. The complex houses over 800 separate buildings with 9,999.5 rooms. Why? Because the God in Heaven has a 10,000 room palace, so to show proper respect the emperor had to have less than 10,000! Touring the Forbidden City is simply not enough; you must truly experience the incredible thought and detail that went into every single aspect of the Forbidden City!
For example, the palace complex is built in the very center of the Meridian Line and is a microcosm of China’s entire culture in its fabled architecture. The Meridian Line is part of the Yin/Yang concept of the balance of nature. Yin is the gentle, feminine side of nature while Yang is the strong, masculine side and together they strike the perfect balance. The Meridian Line is the very center line that runs through the middle of entire city of Beijing from the north to the south. All the important buildings are on this line, Tian’anmen Square, the Forbidden City, City Drum Tower and City Bell Tower are all on this line. In ancient China, all buildings were built according to your status in the social hierarchy; the higher your rank, the closer you are to the Meridian Line. The emperor’s throne chair actually sits right in the middle of the Meridian Line! Why? Because, the emperor is considered the center of the universe, so his power is supposed to radiate outwards from the center! Follow along this Meridian Line and you will see perfectly designed symmetrical buildings on both sides of the line. This keeps the balance of Yin and Yang and follows the concept of the ancient Chinese science of Feng Shui.
What exactly is Feng Shui? Literally translated, Feng means the Wind, Shui means the Water. Together it’s the art and science of how to preserve the harmony of our artificial existence in order to get along with the Mother Nature. For example, in the Forbidden City, the front court is in the south and is the political area, while the residential area is in the northern part, at the back of the compound.
According to the five elements theory incorporated in Feng Shui, the south is associated with fire, which symbolizes growth and prosperity. Fire belongs to the Yang category, and therefore the most advantageous place for government business. North is associated with water, which symbolizes conservatism, and stability. Water belongs to the Yin category. That is why the North is the most harmonious place to house the residences. This is also why the buildings in the front court are large and magnificent; while the residential buildings in the back are smaller than the front, to show the tender and gentle virtue of the Yin.
Did you know that in ancient China even the colors were regulated according to your status? In ancient times only the emperor’s buildings in the Forbidden City, had magnificent colors of yellow, red and green. The rest of the city buildings were all in gray. It was designed this way so you could easily distinguish people’s status in the hierarchy. While you are soaking up the ambiance of the Forbidden City while on your Dream Tour, notice that it is painted completely in red and yellow. That is because the earth, which is represented by yellow, is the center and represents the nation, so the roofs are in yellow; Fire produced the earth and has the color of red, so the walls are mainly in red.
When you go to Beijing, while you are being wowed by the beauty of those groups of gorgeous ancient buildings, take another look and think about the whole picture and the magnificence behind the scenes. You will really be fascinated by how deep this philosophy goes below the skin and into the heart and soul of the whole city of Beijing.
And always remember that everything in China was built the way it was for a reason. Nothing in Chinese architecture is ever haphazard or without some consequence!
So now you can see how interwoven the Chinese culture is in every aspect of life; even in the designs of the cities! More importantly, you can experience this ancient and grand Chinese culture yourself on your Dream Tour to China!