Thursday Doors: Palace Museum in the Forbidden City

Earlier this summer I was gone for 3 weeks on a trip to Asia. Our itinerary was as follows: South Korea (Seoul), China (Beijing, Xi’an, Hong Kong, Shanghai), and finally Japan (Tokyo). I find travel blogging to be rather challenging without some guiding or organizing principle to follow, so I have been blogging about this trip and showing pictures from it in my weekly photo challenge blogs, Mundane Monday and Thursday Doors. Not everything is mundane and not everything is a door, but these two concepts are still covering a lot of ground.

The first morning of our guided tour in Beijing we spent in Tiananmen Square. Doors are not really what you go to see in Tiananmen Square, but the door to the Forbidden City is here under Chairman Mao’s portrait. This portrait hangs there all the time, and is replaced with an identical copy every 5 years. The Mausoleum that displays Mao’s embalmed body (elsewhere in the square) closed for renovations again in the summer of 2017, so we didn’t see the real thing.


If you look closely at the doors you can see that they have rows of studs on them. Each door has exactly 81 studs, or 9X9. Nine is a special number in China. Our guide said that 10 is associated with perfection unattainable in this life, leaving the number 9 to be claimed by the Emperor as his own. The rest of us humans have to be content with 8, which is also a lucky number.

After entering through the studded door, you walk down a long hallway into the first courtyard of the Forbidden City, where you could buy your entrance tickets.


The next picture shows a courtyard further interior than the first view a tourist has upon entering the Palace, but I chose to show it because it illustrates how barren the area is. The sun beats down and people carry umbrellas to protect themselves from it, but there are no plants or other landscape features that might provide other types of relief.


Doors with 81 studs were used in many parts of the palace:


It was a real city of its time, with lots of buildings. You would move through one courtyard only to find another one behind it and pass one door only to find others.

And there was construction going in in several places within this bustling city, as you can see here:


We went to the Imperial Garden last, which was my favorite part of the Forbidden City. It was built for the emperors and their wives to enjoy themselves. You finally see some greenery around these doors, in addition to the usual studs. Also, a number of pictures of bats, who were considered good luck.


My fitbit told me that this was another one of my 15K+ step days. I’m glad the sandals were comfortable!

This post is for Norm 2.0’s Thursday Doors, a weekly feature allowing door lovers to come together to admire and share their favorite door photos from around the world. I’ll be sharing more doors from my trip to East Asia for the next several Thursdays, as well as more everyday travel photos for the “Mundane Monday” challenge on Mondays.





10 thoughts on “Thursday Doors: Palace Museum in the Forbidden City”

  1. My first trip to China was in 2004 and my wife’s cousin, resident of Bejing, was a former tour guide and gave us a personal tour. You are correct about the 9 X 9 studs on the doors at each “Gate” but I was told the last emperor was the 9th son of the 9th son and that was a reason for the number of studs; the other info is probably equally correct. The reason why you found no vegetation or trees in the Forbidden City, I was told, was to ensure there were no hiding places for assassins and the brick stones for the courtyards were dug several feet below grade and laid in one direction for one layer and in the other direction for the next layer so assassins could not tunnel underground. My 2004 photos still show what you shot today including construction renovation work; I was going to post my Red Door photos for a blog but my wife and her cousin posed in front of the my door shots and I didn’t want to have them in the Door hall of fame archives in perpetuity so they never got posted.
    China has a fascinating history and I’m glad you got to see some of it. If you saw the new Summer Palace that was a bit of history too.

    Liked by 1 person

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