Due to China's long history, the frequent changes of dynasty and the chaos of war, many ancient Chinese imperial relics were destroyed. Those relics that have been preserved are mostly from the Ming and Qing dynasties. As of November 2003, the UNESCO World Heritage Committee had approved eight Chinese imperial relics for inclusion in the Word Heritage List. The majestic and grandImperialPalace(Forbidden City) epitomizes not only ancient Chinese architecture but also imperial culture. The gracefulSummerPalaceinBeijingand the imperial Mountain Resort of Chengde are representative of the art of Chinese imperial gardening. The solemn and mysteriousTempleofHeaveninBeijingwas where emperors offered sacrifices, prayed to heaven and tried to create a telepathic field connecting humans and the gods. A comparison between the Mausoleum of the First Qin Emperor over 2,000 years ago and the imperial mausoleums of the Ming and Qing dynasties helps trace the systems and institutions of ancient Chinese imperial mausoleums to the same origin. These sites are not only models of Chinese mausoleum art but also witnesses to the ups and downs of Chinese history.
ImperialPalace of the Ming and Qing Dynasties (UNESCO cultural heritage site since 1987)
TheImperialPalace or the Forbidden City, containing over 980 buildings used by the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasty emperors, is situated in centralBeijing. It is the largest and most intact group of ancient imperial buildings in the word, and covers an area of 720,000 sq m. In the south are located the halls of Superme Harmony, Central Harmony and Preserved Harmony, where the emperors received officials in audience and held important ceremonies. In the north are the residences of the emperors, empresses and imperial concubines.
The buildings of theImperialPalaceare decorated with colors of strong contrast, such as white, ted, blue-green and golden yellow, which are extraordinarily striking under the background of the blue sky and white clouds.
A great number of treasures have been collected in theImperialPalace, including bronzes, articles made of jade, gold and silver, ceramics, paintings and calligraphic works. The cultural relics in thePalaceMuseum, established in 1952, are mainly those which were collected in the palace during the Qing Dynasty.
China is an ancient country with a history of several thousand years. Imperial power and culture have always played an important role historically. As in other imperial systems, the Chinses emperors in every dynasty always had supreme status and priority, though the royal family frequently changed. Imperial palaces, gardens, temples and mausoleums were built on the orders of different emperors using the entire country's labor and financial power. They reflected the socioeconomic conditions and technological levels of their time and the ideology, artistic aims and achievements of an era, leaving numerous precious assets to succeeding generations.