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.

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1. Gate of Glorious Harmony

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A portal leading to the Hall of Martial Valour in the western regions of the Forbidden City's outer court.

2. Gate of Supreme Harmony


Originally built in 1420, the Gate of Supreme Harmony is the main gate of the Forbidden City's outer court. It was used by the emperor for his morning…

4. Hall of Literary Brilliance

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The Hall of Literary Brilliance complex, just to the east of the Forbidden City's entrance at the Meridian Gate was formerly used as a residence by the…

5. Rear Hall

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One of the main halls within the Workers' Cultural Palace, but closed to visitors. It was used to store the spirit tablets of imperial ancestors in its…

6. Hall of Martial Valour

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To the west of the Meridian Gate is the Hall of Martial Valour, well worth a detour to see what exhibition is currently installed. During the Ming dynasty…

8. Middle Hall

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Known locally as the Resting Hall, this imperial building has a yellow-glazed eave-hipped roof. Closed for visitors.