THE FORBIDDEN CITY, Buildings East Side I

Audio File length: 2.32
English / USA Language: English / USA

On the opposite side from the palaces in the west wing, you’ll find the six Eastern Palaces where the princes and the emperor’s concubines lived. Built in 1420, they were restored in the 17th century, and for the most part are now exhibition rooms where you can admire the treasures of the imperial family.

The first one you’ll come to is the Palace of Purity, where the crown prince lived during the Ming dynasty, while during the Qing dynasty it was home to the empress.

Today the palace houses a collection of ancient jade objects. Jade has a long history in China, stretching back more than 8000 years. It was always very popular with the emperors because it symbolizes prosperity and happiness.

Jade reached the peak of its popularity during the Qing dynasty, especially during the reign of Emperor Qianlong, and here you can admire sophisticated works found nowhere else in the world.

The Palace of Great Brilliance, just meters from the Palace of Purity, was the residence of the concubines during the Ming dynasty, but was turned into a library in 1686, during the reign of Emperor Qing Kangxi. Gold and silverware from the Qing dynasty are now displayed her.


Now press pause, visit the two palaces, and then move on to the other two palaces, located next to one another: the Palace of Celestial Favor and the Palace of Eternal Harmony.



Both these buildings were home to concubines during the Ming and Qing dynasties, and today house a collection of over 15,000 works in bronze, 1600 of them dating to the Qin dynasty, which governed China in the 3rd century BC. In the Palace of Eternal Harmony, you can admire 4000 bronze mirrors, illustrating the exceptional metalworking techniques used in ancient China.

Near here you can also see the Palace of Great Benevolence and the Palace of Lasting Happiness, which I’ll be telling you about in the next file.


An interesting fact: the Empress Dowager Cixi originally shared power with the Empress Dowager Ci’an, the empress and official wife of Emperor Xianfeng. In order to obtain all the power for herself, the ruthless, unscrupulous Cixi had her rival poisoned here in the Palace of Purity, where Ci’an lived!







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