The magnificent Forbidden City, now often known as the Palace Museum, is the largest and arguably one of the best-preserved Imperial Palace complexes in the world. For five centuries, it functioned as the administrative centre of the country as well as being the residence of Emperors and Empresses of the Ming (1368 – 1644) and the Qing (1644 – 1911) dynasties. It covers an area of 74 hectares and originally housed 9,999 rooms, with now over 8000 restored. It was originally surrounded by a moat six metres deep and a ten metre high wall. Construction of the Forbidden City began in 1407 and was completed fourteen years later in 1420. It was said that a million workers including one hundred thousand artisans were driven into the long-term hard labor to complete the complex. Listed by UNESCO as a World Cultural Heritage Site in 1987, the Forbidden City is now one of the most popular tourist attractions world-wide.

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