Visitors enter the Forbidden Palace through the central gate of the Meridian Gate, formerly reserved only for the Emperor during the Ming and Qing dynasties. The massive superstructure of the Meridian Gate, with its five towers, is also known as the “Five Phoenix Turrets” because it is said to resemble a flying Phoenix when viewed from above.
Most city sightseeing tours include a stop at the Meridian Gate and Forbidden City. Many visitors choose to visit with a guide who can help them navigate the vast complex of the Forbidden City and provide additional insights. Save time by booking a tour with skip-the-line access. Those short on time can opt for a tour that also includes stops at other popular Beijing attractions such as the Summer Palace and the Temple of Heaven, and even a nearby section of the Great Wall.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The Meridian Gate is a must-see in Beijing.
- Wear comfortable shoes and be prepared to walk; the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square are vast.
- Don’t forget a hat, sun protection, and plenty of water, as there’s very little shade in the area.
How to Get There
It’s best to take public transport to the Meridian Gate as taxis are not allowed to stop nearby. Take the subway Line 1 to Tiananmen East or Tiananmen West, or Line 2 to Qianmen. Several buses also stop nearby, including those going to Gugong.
When to Get There
The Meridian Gate is closed on Monday afternoons, except holidays. Visit first thing in the morning when the ticket office opens to avoid crowds at this popular attraction. Avoid weekends and Chinese national holidays.
Nearby Attractions The area surrounding the Meridian Gate is home to some of the top attractions in Beijing, including Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City, the Chairman Mao Mausoleum, the Museum of Chinese History, and Museum of the Chinese Revolution, and the Great Hall of the People. Leave yourself plenty of time if planning to view several attractions together.
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- Treasure Gallery
- Imperial Garden of the Palace Museum
- Inner Court (Nei Ting)
- Nine Dragon Screen at the Palace Museum
- Tiananmen (Gate of Heavenly Peace)
- Tiananmen Square (Tiananmen Guangchang)
- Forbidden City (Palace Museum)
- National Museum of China (NAMOC)
- Monument to the People’s Heroes
- Great Hall of the People
- Wangfujing Street (Wangfujing Dajie)
- National Center for the Performing Arts (NCPA)
- Jingshan Park (Jingshan Gongyuan)
- Chairman Mao Memorial Hall (Maozhuxi Jinian Tang)
- St. Joseph's Church