Dear Family and Friends
When we woke up this morning it was hard to believe we were in the same place we were yesterday. No rain, not even a cloud in the sky. The weather was beautiful and the smog was gone.
We started out this day at Tiananmen Square, according to our guide, the largest public plaza in the world. It was built at the height of the Ming Dynasty. The square's Gate of Heavenly Peace was once used as a staging ground for imperial edicts and by Mao Zedong himself to declare the founding of the People's Republic in 1949.
This is a picture of the Gate of Heavenly Peace that sits at one end of Tiananmen Square.
In the middle of the square there was a temporary enormous floral arrangement. It was placed there for National Day (October 1st) The holiday has now become a week long affair and is known as National Day Golden Week.
National Day marks the beginning of the People's Republic of China.
The Forbidden City lies behind this wall at the opposite end of the square. You can see Mao Zedong's portrait over the entrance.
The Forbidden City was once residence of Chinese emperors from the Ming to the Qing dynasties. The complex designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a masterpiece of Chinese architecture.
The total complex consists of 800 buildings with more than 9,000 rooms.
After we walked through the first opening in the wall we had to walk through three or four more gates and courtyards before we were in the part where the emperors lived.
Besides their wife, the emperors had many concubines. Because the emperor wanted to make sure the blood line remained pure, our guide told us that the only males allowed in the emperor's living areas were eunichs.
Believe it or not this was a comfortable job to have because it mean't food to eat and good living conditions. Families would castrate a son so that he could have a chance at a better life.
This is a picture of one of the walkways to the women's living quarters. Each woman, wife or concubine, had her own house.
We had to pass through two or three different gates just to get out the other end.
It was a very interesting tour. We had done this tour once before, but like many things, you learn even more on the second time through.
Our next tour on this day was the site of the Summer Palace, a former resort of the Empress Dowager (the only woman Emperor in China's history).
We didn't actually get to go inside the original palace, which sits high on the hill. We walked the grounds and saw the surrounding gardens.
This picture is of the palace.
Below the palace is a huge man made lake.
The grounds are the largest, most well preserved royal park in China.
The grounds were beautiful and well kept.
I think I posted a picture of this stone boat awhile back in a Friday Photo from a previous visit. Well, I am happy to report that it is still afloat.
The next morning we flew to Xian, home to the Terracotta warriors.
(You may have noticed that the type is larger in this post than in the past. I am experimenting. My eyes are not as good as they used to be and I find this more comfortable to read. Let me know if you prefer the larger type or if you would prefer the original type.)