The incredible scale of the Forbidden City is daunting.  The central spine contains vast open spaces defined by grand halls and endless arcades.  But the Eastern Palaces and Western Palaces on either side are a world apart.  There are intimate courtyards and lovely rooms where most of the court actually lived.

It is impressive that this has been the center of power in China more than 500 years.  Each successive generation of rulers kept it as an emblem of control rather than destroying what might have been viewed as a symbol of the prior regime.  There are amazing pictures of common people viewing the inner sanctum for the first time after the Communists took over in 1949.

Most of the public parts of the vast complex is in perfectly restored condition, though it is nice to stumble on some areas at the fringes with some patina of time.