Jinshan Park is just north of the Forbidden City. The hill was created from clearing and flattening the space for the Forbidden City. It was the private park of the Emperor and other habitants of the Forbidden City. At 2RMB enterance fee its a cheap treat.
I entered from the West gate. A note on the information board stated that one of the Emperors, can't remember which, escaped to the park when the Forbidden City was overrun by "barbarians" and comitted suicide. It stated that the Emperor is commemorated as one who died for his country. I find it strange that someone who committed suicide rather than live to fight is commemorated as a hero. Maybe suicide doesn't have the same stigma in Chinese philosophy as it does in western.
I climbed to the pagoda at the high point. You can get a great view of the Forbidden City from the top. You can also get into a traditional costume for a quick pic. The park seems to be a favorite hangout for chinese seniors to take their exercise.
I entered the Forbidden City through the north gate. As mentioned in the guidebooks, it is less busy than the south enterance.
The buildings are beautiful, it's unfortunate that there are not more displays of furnishings or explanation of how the residents lived their daily lives. I recall once hearing that alot of the most precious items from the Forbidden City were sold/given to western powers or travelled with Chiang Ki Shek and his followers to Taiwan. Certainly the Taiwan National Museum in Taipei has an excellent selection of artwork and furniture from various periods in Chinese history.
I spent my time wandering through the Forbidden City remembering situations from the book "dream of the red chamber" (may have the title wrong). Definitely worth reading before visiting the Forbidden City to get an idea of how the Emperor and his court lived there. It was a pampered but confined life - my understanding is that the only people who could come and go were the servants.
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