Meridian Gate: The Entrance to the Forbidden City

Did you notice these details when entering the Forbidden City?

By The Palace Museum

The Meridian Gate was built in 1420. It is the southern entrance to the imperial palace.

Panorama of the Meridian GateThe Palace Museum

It has a concave layout with the five pavilions neatly arranged on top, reflecting the imperial dignity.

Abutment Wall

The lower part of the Meridian Gate is a 12-meter high red abutment wall. There are 3 gates in the main, central section. Officials went in and out through the east gate, and members of the royal family used the west gate.

The centre passage-way was reserved solely for the emperor. The exceptions were the Empress, who was permitted to pass through this distinctive gate only during the wedding ceremony, and the top three scholars of the triennial civil service examinations, who left the exams through the central portal.

Central Pavilion

Among the five pavilions on the top of the Meridian Gate, the central one is 60.05 meters in length and 25 meters in width. When the emperor held grand ceremonies, drums and bells in the main gate's towers were struck.


On the east and west of the central abutment wall, there are two corridor-like buildings extend southward, with pavilions at both ends.

Panorama of the Meridian GateThe Palace Museum

Because of the five pavilions on top, the Meridian Gate is known as Five-Phoenix Tower (Wufeng lou).

Now, let us walk through the central passage-way that used to be reserved only for the emperor and start our journey at the Forbidden City.

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