How many buildings are there in the Forbidden City – Different versions of number

how many buildings are there in the forbidden city

One of the most common questions people ask about the Forbidden City is how many buildings are there. The answer, however, is not straightforward because it depends on how one defines a building.

According to the official website of the Palace Museum, the complex has 980 buildings. This number includes halls, chambers, pavilions, towers, and other structures. Among these buildings, the most famous are the Hall of Supreme Harmony, the Hall of Central Harmony, and the Hall of Preserving Harmony, which were used for imperial ceremonies and banquets.

However, some sources suggest that the number of buildings in the Forbidden City is much higher. For example, “The Forbidden City: The Great Within” by May Holdsworth estimates that there are over 9,000 rooms in the Forbidden City spread over 250 acres, and that the complex has around 8,707 buildings. This number includes not only the main structures but also the small gates, walls, and corridors that connect them.

On the other hand, some myths and legends about the Forbidden City claim that the number of buildings is even higher. One of the most famous legends is that the Forbidden City has 9,999 and a half rooms. According to this legend, the number 9,999 is a symbol of the emperor’s power and the half room is a sign of humility, reminding the emperor that he is not above the gods.

While this legend is certainly intriguing, it is not supported by historical evidence. In fact, the number 9,999 is considered unlucky in Chinese culture because it sounds similar to the word “eternal,” which is associated with death. Moreover, the official statistics provided by the Palace Museum do not confirm the existence of a half room.

In conclusion, the exact number of buildings in the Forbidden City is a matter of debate. However, what is clear is that the complex is an architectural masterpiece that embodies the rich history and culture of China. Whether it has 980 buildings or over 8,000 buildings, the Forbidden City remains one of the most impressive imperial palaces in the world.

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