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Notes on the Geography of Great Mirror: Photo 7

world pictures Great Mirror

The Golden Water River crosses the Forbidden City from northwest to southeast. Intended less as an amenity than as a source of water in case of fire, the river is crossed here by five bridges--one for each of the five entrances in the Meridian Gate. The middle bridge, as part of the Imperial Way, was reserved for the emperor's use and is wider than the others and paved differently.

Note that this courtyard occupies a bit less than a third of the Forbidden City's full width. It is framed east and west by low buildings. The ones on the east, shown here in the distance, included a great library (the Hall of Literary Glory, or Wenyuandian), a Confucian lecture hall (the Hall of Reverence for the Master, or Zhujingdian), and a secretariat. Behind the camera (and a similar framing line of buildings) were the Halls of Martial Grace (Wuyingdian). These were actually storehouses for the imperial treasure, and the name was probably intended only to balance the intellectual pursuits of the east side. Both these extensive flanking areas are closed to the public. So is more than half the Forbidden City. The closures extend outside the Meridian Gate to the great Imperial Ancestral Temple (Taimiao) flanking it on the southeast. It's a pity, but most visitors don't know or care, because even the areas that are open tend to be overwhelming.

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