Palace architecture is also called imperial court architecture. Usually built on grand scale. the imperial palaces are closely related to imperial sovereignty and were also constructed for the entertainment of rulers.
Since the Qin Dynasty. the ``palace`` has become a royal residence. where an emperor exerted his supreme power. Palaces in China feature large brackets and crossbeams. glazed yellow tiles. exquisite engravings. delicate paintings. white-marble stairs. pillars and smaller architectural pieces. The Hall of Supreme Harmony is a typical example.
To highlight the emperor`s supreme sovereignty and the central role of imperial power. the ancient palaces were strictly laid out on central axis. Buildings on the central axis are tall and splendid. while those on the flanks are relatively low and simple. A palace is divided into two sections: outer court and inner court. The outer court was designed for emperors to hold court and grand ceremonies while the inner court was where the emperor and his concubines lived.
The Imperial Palace of Beijing
The Imperial Palace of Beijing is a prime example of Chinese palace architecture. The Imperial Palace. also known as the Forbidden City. once accommodated 24 emperors from the Ming and Qing dynasties. The Imperial Palace covers an area of 720.000 square meters with over 9.000 houses. It is surrounded by 3.400 meters of vermilion walls and city moats.
The Imperial Palace is divided into two sections. The southern part. where the emperor held ceremonies and issued edicts. is made up of the Halls of Supreme Harmony. Central Harmony and Preserving Harmony. These buildings are all built on eight-meter-high bases that are made of white marble. The northern part is where the emperor handled state affairs and also contained the residences of the emperor. his empress. consorts and concubines. Major buildings include the Hall of Heavenly Purity and Earthly Tranquility. and the Imperial Garden. Gardens. studies and pavilions also abound in the Imperial Palace .
Few ancient palaces have survived because of wars and changing dynasties. The preserved palaces include the Imperial Palace of Beijing. an Imperial Palace in Shenyang. and several relics of palaces of Han and Tang dynasties in Xi`an.