This impressive palace complex resembles a small-scale Forbidden City. Constructed between 1625 and 1636 by Manchu emperor Nurhachi (1559–1626) and his son, Huang Taiji, the palace served as the residence of the Qing dynasty rulers until 1644. The central courtyard buildings include ornate ceremonial halls and imperial living quarters, including a royal baby cradle. In all, there are 114 buildings, not all of which are open to the public.
Zhong Jie metro station (exit B) is a few minutes north.
Don’t miss the double-eaved octagonal Dàzhèng Hall (at the rear of the complex), which has two gold dragons curled around the pillars at the entrance, a deep interior plafond ceiling and an elaborate throne, where Nurhachi’s grandson, Emperor Shunzhi, was crowned. At Chóngzhèng Hall, the first large building as you enter, the beams over the entrance portico are all carved in the shape of five-fingered dragons.