The grandeur of history swallows modern crowds here on a daily basis. Completed in 1420, construction lasted over 14 years and required over a million workers when Ming Emperor Zhu Di moved the capital from Nanjing to Beijing. With almost 1,000 surviving buildings and the addition of Tiananmen Square in the mid 1600s, this monumental site is a spectacle that continues to wonder the modern world.
If you’re wondering why it’s hard to navigate to with notoriously bad traffic, you can blame the genius of the original architects to stymie potential forces from invading the capital. Despite the maze like navigation through the heart of the city, this locale attracts visitors from mainland China and across the globe. It’s best to get here early right when the gates open to beat the rush, but don’t fret if you’re not a morning person. The sheer size of this area accommodates the masses, just be prepared to wait longer in the security line if you roll the dice.
Gain entry past the rigid discipline of the numerous guards (and even higher number of surveillance cameras), walk among the spacious square’s monuments and enter the Tiananmen gate to travel back in time through the “golden ages” (no really, there is a lot of gold) of China’s Forbidden City.
Another tip: restrooms are few and far in between so if you see one take advantage. You really have no idea how big this place is until you are looking for a bathroom, trust us…