Beijing’s Forbidden City to Open to the Public for the First Time Ever

Courtesy World Monuments Fund

The historic site will open its doors after a new garden is constructed.

If you’ve ever wondered what the inside of Beijing’s Forbidden City looks like, prepare to have a good day.

An American architect—Annabelle Selldorf—is constructing a new Qianlong Garden Interpretation Center within Beijing’s Forbidden City. This may not mean too much to you considering the site has never been open to the public, but listen up: For the first time ever, the Forbidden City will be available to visit, once the new center is finished.


A photo of one of the interiors, the Juanqinzhai theater room, before (left) and after (right) conservation. Courtesy World Monuments Fund

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Selldorf’s design—which she is working on with her New York City-based firm—will also include a new visitor’s center, serving as the entry point for guests. The new interpretation center will live inside the Qianlong Garden, a 2-acre space that used to serve as the private retreat for the fourth emperor of the Qing dynasty between 1771 and 1776. The garden hasn’t been used by anyone on the property since 1924 and it’s never been a public space.


The Juanqinzhai theater room, after conservation. Courtesy World Monuments Fund

According to ArchDaily, the garden has four courtyards, intricate rockeries, and 27 various pavilions. The World Monument Fund describes this area of the Forbidden City as “some of the most significant, exquisitely designed interiors to survive relatively unchanged from imperial China.”


A photo of one of the structures, Fuwangge, before (left) and after (right) conservation. Courtesy World Monuments Fund

To get the grounds repaired and ready for visitors, the WMF teamed up with the country’s Palace Museum to restore the gardens to their original glory. This section of the Forbidden City is planned to open to tourists in 2020.


Courtesy World Monuments Fund