Forbidden City

-- Wumen(Meridian Gate) --

 Meridian Gate of the Forbidden City The Meridian Gate, Wumen in Chinese, is the southern entrance of the Forbidden City. Chinese emperors believed that they were the Sons of Heaven and therefore should live at the center of the universe. They believed the Meridian Line went through the Forbidden City, so this gate was named accordingly. Wumen is the largest and most imposing of the entrances and is the main gate to the Forbidden City. It has five openings and is 35.6 meters high. The gate is surmounted by five pavilions named Wufenglou, which means "The Tower of the Five Phoenix". The tower housed drums which were beaten to announce the emperor's departure for the Temple of Heaven, while bells were rung to announce their departure to the Ancestral Temple. The bells and drums were sounded when the emperor was going to receive his ministers in Taihedian (Hall of Supreme Harmony).

Inner view of the Meridian Gate on the square Everyone who entered the Forbidden City had to observe strict rules concerning the use of the Meridian Gate. The central arch was for the exclusive use of the emperor. However, an empress was granted the privilege of using this entrance once, and only once, on her wedding day. As a special honour, the three finalists who achieved the highest awards in the national examinations presided over by the emperor, would be permitted to march through this archway, following their interview with the emperor. The smaller arch to the east was used by ministers while that to the west was used by the royal family. The remaining arches were used by petty officials. Ordinary people were forbidden to enter the city.

A number of special events would take place at the Meridian Gate. On the equivalent of the 1st October, the emperor would issue the solar calendar for the coming year. The calendar would indicate the days on which various ceremonies would be held. In ancient times, emperors would bestow food on ministers to mark important days in the solar year. After wars, Emperors would receive captives here. Also, to the left of the Imperial Way which passes through the central arch, those who had offended the emperor would receive a flogging as their punishment.

Now you must feel honoured to march into the central opening. Do you see Taihemen (Gate of Supreme Harmony)in the north?

Click to e-mail me at


Copyright 2002, Sunrise Studio, All Rights Reserved.




<script language="JavaScript">document.write("<no" + "script>")</script> </HTML>