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Six Eastern and Western Palaces and Outer

Eastern Palaces

Introduction| Virtual tour | Architecture | Construction | Present condition | Treasure
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Announcing the architecture of the six eastern palaces and six western palaces
The six eastern palaces and six western palaces, located on the east and west sides of the three rear palaces respectively, was the residences of imperial concubines. With a surrounding wall each palace forms a compound of 2,500 square meters (3,000 square yards). The main halls stand in the middle and the side-chambers are in the east and west. The hall in the front yard was used for formal ceremonies, and the hall in the backyard served as the bedchamber. The architecture of the 12 palaces, connected by passageways, is more or less the same.

History information

Empress Dowager Cixi once lived as a concubine in Chuxiugong (Palace of Gathering Elegance), one of the six western palaces, and her son, Emperor Tongzhi was born right here.

The six eastern palaces and six western palaces was restored several times during the Qing Dynasty. To celebrate Empress Dowager Cixi's 50th birthday in 1884, it was completely refurbished at a fabulous cost of silver. She moved in on her birthday and resided here for ten years.

The palace today retains the shape of that renovation. The "Eulogy of Longevity" was presented to Cixi by two scholars on her 50th birthday and inscribed on the wall, which can be seen clearly even today.

Present palace
The six eastern palaces are now used as exhibition halls for traditional Chinese arts such as bronze and porcelain.

The outer Eastern Palaces
In a separate enclosure further east were palaces called "the outer Eastern Palaces", which were specially built for the retired Emperor Qianlong and later inhabited by Cixi, the, Empress Dowager, before and after her 60th birthday.

Qianlong was the fourth Qing Emperor and reigned from 1736 to 1795. When he was 85 years old, he decided to abdicate and offer power to his son. Emperor Qianlong died in 1798 at the age of 89.

This group of building is independent of the other parts of the imperial palace; however, the general plan is made exactly after that on the central axis. The main building in this area are HuangjidianHall of Imperial supremacy, Ningshougong (Palace of Tranquil Longevity) in the front part; Yangxindian Hall for Cultivating Charater, Leshoutang (Hall of Joyful Longevity) and yihexuanpavilion of Sustained Harmonyin the back part. At present, these halls are used as an exhibition of treasures.

Nine dragon Screen
At the entrance to the outer Eastern palaces, there is a Nine-dragon Screen, erected in 1773 during the reign of Emperor Qianlong as a decoration.

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