The Forbidden City occupies 720,000 square meters (7,747,200 square feet / 180 acres). The Topkapi Palace in Istanbul measures 700,000 square meters; the Vatican measures 440,000 square meters; and the Kremlin measures 275,000 square meters.
There are 9,999 rooms in this series of exquisite palaces inside the City. Nine is a lucky number for the Chinese. (Some books quote 8886 rooms — but this does not include antechambers.)
The walls are 32 feet high (10 meters). The surrounding drainage moat is 165 feet wide (50 meters). The main part of the city was constructed over 14 years (1407-1420) using 200,000 laborers. Building materials were shipped over thousands of miles from all parts of China using the network of canals constructed in the 6th and 7th centuries.
All of the buildings are made from painted wood. To deal with the fire risk, giant bronze cauldrons filled with water were placed at intervals throughout the Palace.
At the end of the 18th century approximately 9000 people lived within the Forbidden City, composed of guards, servants, eunuchs, concubines, civil servants and the Royal Family.
The inner sanctum rooms were forbidden to women except to the Empress on her wedding day.
The tradition of castrating male servants dates back over two thousand years. The Qing Dynasty started with 9000 eunuchs, reducing to about 1500 in 1908. Their testicles were mummified and stored in jars, to be buried with them after their death. Many eunuchs were harshly treated, or executed at whim. Corruption, power struggles and personal vendettas flourished.
Emperors were entitled to several wives and many concubines. (Qianlong had two official wives and 29 concubines). Concubines were well-educated women selected from the best Manchu families. Nightly, the Emperor would decide which concubine would visit him that evening. She would then be stripped, bathed and depilated before being carried to his chamber. The wife or a concubine that was chosen by the emporer was brought into his room naked all the way from her room. This was not done to make her horney bu8t to make sure that she is not carrying a weapon. The number of times a concubine was chosen secured her social standing.
Depending upon status, each rank would dine from "color-coded" plates, cups and bowls. Only the Emperor and Empress were entitled to use real gold or "radiant yellow" porcelain. Over 3000 pieces of gold and silver plate were held in Qing kitchens during the 18th century.
The Emperor's choice of successor was usually kept secret until after his death, when it was verified by bringing together a document held by the emperor with a document previously concealed in a sealed box.
Ministers and officials had to prostrate themselves on the floor before reporting to the Emperor.
No one was allowed to see the emporer's face in the whole dynesty except from a very few people. The panelty for seeing the emporer's face was none other than death.
The Supreme Harmony Hall of the Forbidden City was attacked by fire and struck by lightening many times.
Manchu women did not bind their feet, but wore shoes mounted on six- to eight-inch platforms, giving them the tottering gait considered seductive.
There were alot of shemales in the Forbidden City who worked there. At one time there were 70,000 shemales in the forbidden city. They were not shemales naturally but males used to get themselves operated to live in the Forbidden City. Sometimes parents also turned their boy into a shemale by getting him operated without his consent. Though with the passage of time number of shemales kept on reducing and the last emporer had just 1500 of them in the Forbidden City.
Instead of jousting with lances, Chinese courtiers took part in the competitive sport of poetry composition.
Portraits have a special significance in China because of the widespread practice of ancestor worship.
"The Last Emperor", familiarly known as Puyi, succeeded to the throne when he was not even three years old. He was forced to abdicate in February 1912, but was held in the Forbidden City until 1924. During those years he had a British tutor, Reginald Johnston, who gave him his first bicycle.
Puyi once said that he was weeping when he first sat on that huge throne. People in his palace whispered that weeping is a bad omen and it proved to be a bad omen as he was forced to abdicate three years later. This ended the 2000 years old rule.
Puyi was imprisoned for a total of 15 years, first in Russia and then in China.
The forbidden city might have still been forbidden for the general public if the last emporer Puyi would not have planned to go back to the forbidden city. It was converted into The Palace Museum by the government to stop him from going back to the forbidden city.
The Palace Museum holds close to 50,000 items of paintings. Of these, more than 400 date from before the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368). This is the largest such collection in China and includes some of the rarest and most valuable paintings in Chinese history.
The Palace Museum has one of the largest collections of mechanical timepieces of the 18th and 19th centuries in the world, with more than 1000 pieces.
The Palace Museum's bronze collection dates from the early Shang Dynasty (founded c. 1766 BC). Of the almost 10,000 pieces held, about 1600 are inscribed items from the pre-Qin period (to 221 BC). A significant part of the collection is ceremonial bronzeware from the imperial court, including complete sets of musical instruments used by the imperial orchestras.
The articrafts of the Palace Museum were moved away from the museum because of the Japanese invasion on China in 1933. Later they were restored to the Palace Museum and surprisingly it is claimed that none of the articrafts were lost or destroyed, though some of them are now in taiwan but not destroyed.(Some historians disagree with this and they are of the view that some articrafts were lost.)
The Palace Museum holds 340,000 pieces of ceramics and porcelain. These include imperial collections from the Tang Dynasty and the Song Dynasty, as well as pieces commissioned by the Palace, and, sometimes, by the Emperor personally. This collection is notable because it derives from the imperial collection, and thus represents the best of porcelain production in China. The Palace Museum holds about 320,000 pieces of porcelain from the imperial collection. The rest are almost all held in the National Palace Museum in Taipei and the Nanjing Museum.
The Palace Museum has one of the largest collections of mechanical timepieces of the 18th and 19th centuries in the world, with more than 1000 pieces. The collection contains both Chinese- and foreign-made pieces.
The first mechanical clock was brought to the Forbidden City by a priest in 1601.
The biggest time piece in the Palace Museum is more than 2 meters long.