Tianamen Square and the Forbidden City are like the Washington Mall of Beijing. They are laid out in a long strip which must be at least 5km long. It starts with the Square which must be about a square km in size – just a big square but it is always teaming with people. It obviously has huge significance for them. Chairman Mao is buried in the Square and there are a few other monuments dotted around. It is next door to the very large security headquarters building so it is a military parade ground – quite a few soldiers on the Square.
On one side they have the two largest video screens I have ever seen and they continuously stream tourism clips of the country. Very impressive.
The Square leads into the Forbidden City through a large gate and you go through a park before you get to the City.
I took most of the pictures of the Forbidden City on my camera so I can’t put them on the blog. Even so there is just no way of capturing the immensity of the City on a camera. It is huge. It is totally surrounded by a 10m high wall which seems to be at least 5m thick all round (it is about 30m thick at the main gate). The main gate is a huge arched tunnel that goes through the wall with these massive iron gates. As you come through to the other side there is a massive courtyard with a huge ancient building on the other side. So you feel impressed until you discover that this is only the first of many massive courtyards and palaces that open up before you – for about the next 3-4 km. It is just mind blowing.
There is a lot of history and it goes back 2 thousand years. It seems that every emperor who came along felt that it was nit big enough and did his own additions. It really was a full city within a city.