This mighty edifice is the Forbidden City's front door, where all visitors to the Palace Museum pass through. During imperial times, the central channel, tracing Beijing's cosmically symmetrical north–south central axis, was reserved for the emperor alone. Above the gate is the Meridian Gate Gallery, which hosts temporary cultural exhibitions of traditional Chinese arts and collections from abroad.
During imperial times, the emperor inspected his armies from here, passed judgement on prisoners, announced the new year’s calendar and oversaw the flogging of troublesome ministers. An innocuous looking doorway to the southwest of the gate was where new palace eunuchs were received.