The Imperial Palace, now known as The Palace Museum or the Forbidden City, served as residence to generations of Chinese emperors during the Ming and Qin dynasties. It is located in the heart of Beijing. Construction on the palace began in the fourth year of Yongle's Reign in the Ming Dynasty (1406). It is one of the most complete imperial architectures in the world.
It occupies an area of 72 hectares and has more than 9,000 chambers and halls. Structurally, it covers over 150,000 square meters. The palace is decorated with red walls, glazed yellow tiles, green and white marble, and resplendent paintings. Its design is symmetrical. The main buildings run along a central axis, in a north-south direction, and the smaller buildings are built on either side of that central axis.
The palace is composed of the outer palaces and the inner courts. The outer palaces are centered around three large halls: the hall of Supreme Harmony, the Hall of Central Harmony and the Hall of Preserving Harmony, flanked by the Hall of Literary Glory and the Hall of Martial Spirit on either side.
The emperors held various ceremonies and rituals, and conducted political meetings in the outer palaces. The inner courts - Palace of Mental Cultivation, Hall of Inner Purity, and the Imperial Garden were where the emperors lived and conducted daily affairs of government.
Twenty-four Ming and Qing emperors lived the Forbidden City. The palace has a collection of over 900,000 relics. The Tian'anmen Gate Tower to the south of the palace is the symbol of New China. It was opened to the public on January 1, 1988.