The Gate of Heavenly Purity was the main portal between the outer and inner courts of the Forbidden City. Note the pair of gilded bronze lions guarding the entrance. The building jutting out from the front east side of the gate was home to a Starbucks, briefly, until protests saw it closed down. (You can still get a latte inside, ironically.)

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1. Forbidden City

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Enclosed by 3.5km of citadel walls at the very heart of Beijing, the Unesco-listed Forbidden City is China’s largest and best-preserved collection of…

2. Hall of Preserving Harmony

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The third of the Great Halls is the Hall of Preserving Harmony, used for banquets and later for imperial examinations. Descending from the rear of the…

3. Palace of Heavenly Purity

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This hall was the principal residence of the emperor in the Ming and early Qing dynasties, where the son of heaven slept and worked. Later in the Qing…

4. Hall of Mental Cultivation

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In the late Qing dynasty, the Hall of Mental Cultivation was where empress dowagers Cixi and Cian took charge of the state affairs behind a screen, when…

5. Hall of Union

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The middle of the three outer halls, the Hall of Union was the place for the empress to receive greetings from her high-ranking subjects during major…

6. Hall of Central Harmony

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Behind the Hall of Supreme Harmony is the Hall of Central Harmony, which was used as the emperor’s transit lounge. Here he would make last-minute…

7. Palace of Eternal Longevity

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One of the six western palaces in the Forbidden City, this was the residence of various empresses and imperial concubines. The Chongzhen Emperor (1628…

8. Palace of Great Benevolence

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One of the six eastern palaces in the Forbidden City, this was a residence of imperial concubines. Emperor Kangxi, most exalted of the Qing emperors (or…