Visiting Beijing: the Forbidden City, Bei Hai park, Jingshan and Lake Hou Hai


Many years ago, I went to watch a Taiwanese movie in original version: Tiger and dragon. Almost at the beginning of the movie, when Yu Shu Lien arrives at Peking to deliver the heavenly sword to the duke, there is a scene where they enter the Forbidden City and an impressive panoramic view of the imperial palace is seen in its era of maximum splendor. And there, in the cinema armchair, I thought:someday I have to go». And finally, years later, I saw myself coming through the doors of the Forbidden City, what a feeling. Although, instead of imperial guards, I found a whole mass of Chinese tourists.

First Forbidden City Courtyard

The Forbidden City is one of the most emblematic places in Beijing. Get this name because, in reality, more than a palace it is a walled city which very few could access, since it was the residence of emperors for hundreds of years, until in 1911 the Republic of China was established. Then it was partially opened to the public in 1925 and in the sixties it was fully opened. Definitely, it's a huge museum divided into courtyards and palaces.

A miniature replica of this wall is in Port Aventura

The fastest way to get to the Forbidden City is by subway, going down in the Tian'an men east station or Tian'an men west (line 1 / red) and walk to the entrance, where a full-color portrait of Mao welcomes us. Passing underneath, we find a large courtyard crowded with people queuing to buy tickets, but not for the Forbidden City. For that you have to go to the next patio, where there are three outlets with numerous lockers, all of them with a lot of people queuing. It seems that in August many Chinese take advantage of vacations to visit the capital. Just before reaching the "meridian gate" is the box office where they rent audio guides, also available in Spanish. Another super long queue to rent the audio guide and, once you get the device, you have to make another supercola in the next window to get the headphones and program it in the desired language. At that point, something told me that we were not going to be alone alone during the visit.

Emperor Garden in the Forbidden City

The Forbidden City It began to be built in 1406, during the period of the Ming dynasty, and was completed fourteen years later. The set of palaces occupies 70 hectares and is said to have 9999 rooms, of which a third were occupied by concubines and eunuchs. It can be divided into two parts, the southern courtyards that were used for public life and the northern ones that were more private rooms. This Pekingese monument is in constant restoration and many of the rooms are not open to the public, but to travel them minimally well, it is necessary to dedicate between three and four hours. It is best to go early, to meet less people. The doors open at 8.30 and close at 16.30.

Bei Hai Park

We toured the Forbidden City for almost three hours, but the task became a bit arduous for the calorazo and the floods of people who came out from under the stones. So, to give us a little respite, then we went to the nearby Bei Hai park (北海 市). This was another recommendation of an acquaintance who lives in Beijing and, after visiting the imperial palace, is a breath of fresh air.

Family photo in Bei Hai Park

To enter the park you have to pay admission. Inside there is a large pond in which you can rent a little boat to walk around. It's all a green lung right in the center of the city. You can find families taking photos dressed in costumes that mimic those used in the imperial era and listen to a street musician sing notes with his guitar. We take the opportunity to eat, since there are a couple of restaurants not very expensive.

Temple inside Bei Hai Park

After eating and walking for a while in Bei Hai Park, we walked to another park located in the coal hillor Jingshan (景山). We had been recommended to visit it because from its highest point there are excellent views of the Forbidden City. Upon entering, we were surprised to find an exhibition of animated dinosaurs. Walking between diplodocus and triceratops, we ended up reaching the top of the coal hill and, as we were told, the views from there of the Forbidden City are amazing. From up there one can realize the enormous dimensions of the complex.