The Palace Museum, former home to the 24 Ming and Qing emperors, is also known as the Forbidden City. Completed in 1420 during the Ming Dynasty, it occupies a total space of more than 720,000 square meters. Apart from the complex of immovable palace buildings, the Palace Museum houses over 1.5 million items or sets of relics. Over 8,000 of them are designated as first-class relics. They fall into the following categories: paintings, calligraphy, rubbings from tablets, inscriptions, sculptures, copperwares, porcelain, textile or embroidery, jade or stone wares, gold or silver wares, jewelry, lacquer works, enamel wares, carvings, miscellaneous handiworks, stationery, daily appliances, clocks and instruments, imperial seals and certificates of the conferring of titles, religious relics, weapons carried by guards of honor, ancient books, and foreign relics.
Ancient architectural relics and other cultural relics fall into 25 categories, which are further divided into 69 sub-categories. Those used for government affairs and daily life are displayed in their original places; works of art such as porcelain, paintings and calligraphy, jewelry, clocks, stone drums, and bronze wares are kept in special halls. There are also halls for short-term exhibitions. The museum is open to the public all year round.
Audio guides in Mandarin, Cantonese, English, French, German, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Italian, Arabic, Russian, Spanish, and Thai are available at the Meridian Gate (Wu men) and the Gate of Divine Prowess (Shenwu men). The deposit for each is 100 yuan. The rental fee for each is 40 yuan, except the Mandarin guide which is 10 yuan. Please return the audio guide before leaving the premises.
Services include package check (Meridian gate, Wumen), gift shops, bookstores, refreshments and light meals, an Information Center in the Archery Pavilion (Jian ting), and public address system.