After I managed to recharge my camera battery, I headed back to the Beijing Forbidden City after lunch around 1:30pm. For lunch, I had a quick bite at a McDonald's about 2 blocks away from my hotel. The food at McD's in China isn't that much different compared to the ones in North America; however, they do serve several styles of fast food that's more unique and probably more appealing to Chinese consumers.
Main entrance to the Forbidden City.
There are several stone bridges leading to the main gates of the Forbiden City, and on each bridge, there are 4 soliders (or police) standing on guard. After you enter the front gates, you'll come up to a rather large court yard, where you will then need to purchase the entrance ticket that costs $60 yuan.
Like everywhere else in China, there are many, many ticket scalpers. I was approached by at least two of them offering to sell me entry tickets for cheap, and another one offering to sell me a "student entry ticket". I would highly recommend just ignoring these people, and probably prevent yourself from getting scammed one way or another. These people are seriously annoying, and persistent.
Rui Gate - 2nd Gate to the Forbidden City
After you show your entry ticket, you enter the 2nd gate to the Forbidden Palace, which is called the Rui Gate. Built in 1420, its used for praying for good fortune each trip the royalty leaves the Forbidden City. To climb the Rui Gate, it'll cost you an extra $10 yuan.
I decided to see what it would be like going up the Rui gate, so I paid the $10 yuan. To enter, you have to check in your bags, and are not allowed to bring water or any other types of drink with you.
Photo taken of the 1st entrance courtyard from on top of the Rui Gate.
There really wasn't much to see when I got up there. So it's quite optional whether you might want to climb it or not.
Inside the Forbidden City.
After entering, I came up to the main front court yard, as you can see in the picture above, it covers a large area. Heading down the left side (west wing) there are various sections that have ancient artifacts and relics on display. These include things such as jewlery, weapons, armour, pots and pans, musical instruments, porcelain, and much more.
After passing through the first court yard, I enterered through the side door, and came up to another large court yard, which leads to the Hall of Supreme Harmony, Hall of Complete Harmony, and Hall of Preserving Harmony. You can read more about these Halls in the Forbidden City here.
More renovations inside the Forbidden City.
The first hall however, is under construction, as you can see from the picture above. You can pass through the gates, but there wasn't much to see as everything else was blocked off due to construction. The next two halls: Hall of Complete Harmony, and Hall of Preserving Harmony were still open to the public.
A photo of the Hall of Complete Harmony (ZhongHeDian)
About The 3 Halls of Harmony
The Hall of Supreme Harmony stood in the center of the front palace. Along with the other two Harmony Halls, the Three Great Halls stood on 7 meter high terraces made of 3 layers of white marble. The pillar of the halls are decorated at the top with carved dragons, phoenix, and cloud patterns. Only the most important ceremonies were held in the Hall of Supreme Harmony - it's also know as the Hall of Golden Throne in the Forbidden City (this hall was closed due to renovation).
Hall of Complete Harmony (Zhonghedian) - located just a bit north, you will see the Hall of Complete Harmony. Its a much smaller building compared to the Hall of Supreme Harmony (smallest of the three halls). Here, the emperor met with officials, and rehearsals for ceremonies were also held here. See photo above.
Hall of Preserving Harmony (Baohedian) - A bit further north, is the 3rd Hall of Preserving Harmony. It is the 2nd largest building in the Forbidden City, only smaller than the Hall of Supreme Harmony. It is in this hall, where imperial banquets were held. Below is a photo of inside of baohedian.
Throne located inside the 3rd hall: Hall of Preserving Harmony.
There's alot more interesting stuff to see in the Forbidden city, I'll continue in the next part.