- "Most of us can, as we choose, make of this world either a palace or a prison."
- –John Lubbock
A collection of imperial structures in Beijing, the Forbidden Palace stands as a testament to the Chinese architectural ingenuity and aesthetic. Ornamental gardens, terraces and fountains surround the magnificent structure, which became the capital of China in 1421. It was the residence of 24 emperors of the Ming and Qing Dynasties until the last emperor abdicated in 1911.
Although the correct title for the building is the "Imperial Palace," it is more widely known as the "Forbidden" Palace because ordinary people were barred from entering its grounds. With a 160-foot moat and walls 30 feet tall, there was little chance that they would get inside unwanted. The Forbidden Palace is enormous, occupying 170 acres and containing 8,706 rooms. An estimated eight to ten thousand people lived inside the palace to serve the needs of the emperor. Today, the Forbidden Palace is a major tourist attraction, and it is still used as a symbol of Chinese sovereignty.