The Forbidden City

The enormous 9,999 room Forbidden City within the city of Beijing is so called because, for five hundred years, no commoner could set foot within its high red walls without being put to death. Today there is a reasonable price of admission and you’ll be able to explore without persecution the vast, intricately decorated palace, playground for twenty-four emperors and centre for centuries of political intrigue. And be agog at the history of  imperial excess; many of the emperors were so removed from their kingdom outside, the court eunuchs wielded all power and kept their master content with an actively replenished harem. The emperor had each concubine’s name cut into a jade seal, and in requesting a particular concubine he’d hand a eunuch the corresponding seal. She would be bathed and depilated, before being carried to his chamber, with the number of times she was chosen securing her social standing. The sheer immensity of the grounds and the treasures and oddities of history it has long contained is staggering, making the Forbidden City worthy of a full day’s wander.

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