Imperial City Exhibition

Lonely Planet review

Substantial portions of Běijīng survive solely in a twilight world of fading nostalgia. This fascinating museum is devoted to the Imperial City (Huáng Chéng), which – beyond its fragmented constituent parts – exists largely in name alone. The museum is within the Changpu River Park (Chāngpú Hé Gōngyuán), a delightful, if contrived, formula of marble bridges, rock features, paths, a stream, willows, magnolias, scholar and walnut trees north of Dongchang’an Jie. The museum functions as a memorial to the demolished imperial wall, gates and buildings of the Imperial City. A diorama in the museum reveals the full extent of the yellow-tiled Imperial City Wall, which encompassed a vast chunk of Běijīng nearly seven times the size of the Forbidden City. In its heyday, 28 large temples could be found in the Imperial City alone, along with many smaller shrines. Period photos of the old gates of Běijīng and images of the halls and pavilions in Zhōngnánhǎi are hung on the walls. Further galleries have exhibits of imperial ornaments such as ruyi (sceptres), porcelain and enamelware, and the weapons and armour of the imperial guards.