The Forbidden City was the Chinese imperial palace from the Ming dynasty to the end of the Qing dynasty—the years 1420 to 1912.
Constructed from 1406 to 1420, the complex consists of 980 buildings and covers 72 ha (over 180 acres). The palace complex exemplifies traditional Chinese palatial architecture, and has influenced cultural and architectural developments in East Asia and elsewhere. The Forbidden City was declared a World Heritage Site in 1987, and is listed by UNESCO as the largest collection of preserved ancient wooden structures in the world.
Located in the heart of Beijing, the Palace Museum is approached from the south through the Gate of Heavenly Peace (Tian'an men). Ten-meter-high walls and a fifty-two-meter -wide moat surround the palace. Measuring 961 meters from north to south and 753 meters from east to west, the expansive architectural complex covers an area of 1,110,000 square meters. Each of the four sides has one gate, namely, the Meridian Gate (Wu men) on the south, the Gate of Divine Prowess (Shenwu men) on the north, the Eastern and Western Prosperity Gates (Donghua men and Xihua men).
Since 1925 the Forbidden City has been under the charge of the Palace Museum, whose extensive collection of artwork and artefacts were built upon the imperial collections of the Ming and Qing dynasties. Part of the museum's former collection is now in the National Palace Museum in Taipei. Both museums descend from the same institution, but were split after the Chinese Civil War. With over 14.6 million visitors in 2015, the Palace Museum is the most visited art museum in the world.