Emperors' home now big China tourist attraction

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In the not so distant past, emperors ruled China. They lived in Beijing inside the Forbidden City, and we got a guided tour inside.

It's called the Forbidden City because it was off limits to people for hundreds of years. Royalty lived inside the walls, but in the 1920s, the last emperor left and it was opened to everyone.

It's considered the largest and best-preserved group of ancient buildings in China. We hired a local guide, Dina, to take us through the gigantic complex.

But it was easy to find American tourists too. "I think it's beautiful. I think there's some places that are tourist stops, and you get there and you're disappointed; and this is not one of them," Eric Streisand said.

Ryan Cote, who is also an American tourist, said," It really just takes your breath away."

Inside the palace, there are inner and outer courts, several buildings used for political or marriage ceremonies, sleeping quarters, storage and everything the emperors needed so they would not have to ever leave the city.

The city was protected well. The bricks, which are original, go seven layers deep so no one could penetrate the city from below.

Some of the buildings have undergone a restoration for the Olympics so the reds, yellows, greens and blues pop.

"Red color good luck and happiness, the wedding color in China. And yellow was imperial color. The emperor's robe was bright color, lemon color, very bright," Dina explained.

And many of the dragons are gold. The dragon was the imperial symbol of China and was believed to ward off evil spirits. Lions outside the buildings serve a similar purpose: protection.

"This is, I'd put it in the category of the Taj Mahal," Streisand said.

The Forbidden City is open to the public every day.

E-mail: abutterfield@ksl.com

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Amanda Butterfield


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