It's only in fairly recent years that the Forbidden City has Shijiazhuang Map Tourist Attractions been opened to tourists^ My mother, who was bom in Hankow and raised in Beijing Shijiazhuang Map Tourist Attractions, had never been able to look inside.
From a hillock in the outer Imperial City which was open to the public, she told me how she used to look out over the Forbidden City, seeing it derelict, falling down yet still so sacrosanct that no one could enter it. She could tell the emperor's halls because green-tiled roofs signified ordinary places, while gold tiles meant imperial. Beijing's only blue-tiled building was the Temple of Heaven.
As I walked through the centre of the Forbidden City I could see the top of the hill where she must have stood.
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I was inside looking out, though I was one of hundreds of tourists in there.