Garuda Indonesia Colours Magazine May 2019 - Page 91

Travel / Beijing 1 2 1. The Forbidden City’s Hall of Supreme Harmony. 2. Stunning interiors – such as this, the Hall of Heavenly Purity – are to be found within the Forbidden City. 3. A boy has the Forbidden City all to himself at the start of the day. 3 I  t’s certainly a place of exceptional (sometimes overwhelming) grandeur: imposing halls, timeless craftsmanship, countless passages and courtyards. (en.dpm.org.cn), the six-century- old imperial palace, now a museum. Sightseers who arrive in time for the doors to open at 8.30am often find the first grand courtyard is almost deserted… for a few minutes at least. It’s certainly a place of exceptional (sometimes overwhelming) grandeur: imposing halls, timeless craftsmanship, countless passages and courtyards (there are almost 1,000 buildings). It’s so vast that visitors can find themselves alone as they explore a remote side hall or tucked-away corridor. Leaving by the north gate leads to Jingshan Park, its central hill providing sweeping views of the ancient palace complex and the city, old and new, beyond. From here the road leads on to the Drum and Bell Towers. But it’s time to meander through Beijing’s ancient hutongs: those lanes and alleys that once encircled the Forbidden City and were home to all the trades and professions that kept the city (and especially the palace) running. Many of these village-like districts have been razed during the past 20 years; of an estimated 6,000 hutongs that existed a century ago, just 600 remain. However, those neighbourhoods that survive retain a unique atmosphere that is a refreshing foil to the city’s traffic-heavy boulevards and bustling malls. Look out for Nanluoguxiang (Nanluoguxiang subway station), 89