Gate of Supreme Harmony (Taihe men)
The Gate of Supreme Harmony was built during the Yongle reign (1403-1424) of the Ming dynasty (1368-1644). Its current name was assigned in 1645 after the Qing regime moved its capital to Beijing and began its rule over China. The gate you now see was rebuilt in 1889 after it was destroyed by fire the year before.
During the Ming dynasty, emperors held morning audience here and accepted memoranda from officials. In 1644 following the Manchu conquest, it was at this gate that the Shunzhi Emperor (r. 1644-1661) ascended the throne and issued the proclamation of Qing dynasty rule over the country.
Three sets of stairs lead up to the 3.4 meter high white marble terrace.
In front of the Gate of Supreme Harmony are symbols of legitimacy to rule: four bronze ding tripods
a miniature stone pavilion and a stone case that stand for the documents and seals of imperial authority.
Completing the assemblage is the largest pair of cast-bronze lions in the palace which aimed to inspire awe and respect.
Inner Golden Water Bridge
The Inner Golden Water River bends like a bow in the square before the Gate of Supreme Harmony. Five marble bridges span the river, leading to the Gate.
The Central Bridge
Because the central bridge was reserved for the emperor, its balustrades are decorated with patterns of dragons among clouds.
The Outer Pair
while the outer pair was for civil officials and military officers of the third rank or higher.
The Flank Pair
Of the four secondary bridges, the pair flanking the central bridge was for imperial princes and kinsmen;