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Emperors used to live there with their family, concubines and government. It was at the same time a fortress designed to protect the Emperor and his own, and the shelter for countless concubines guarded by eunuchs, so they could only bear the child of the Emperor.
Built at the beginning of the 15th century, the City is made of 980 buildings of typical Chinese architecture and is now a UNESCO protected site.
It is shaped as an immense rectangle in the middle of the capital, and legend has it that it contains 9999 rooms. This number, as well as the various names of the structures of the City, are part of the sacred and symbolic aspect of the locations.
Four gigantic towers are located on the corners of the walls, while four gates allow access to the inner city. From Tian'anmen square, the main gate of the City is called the Meridian Gate, and leads the way through the City, across multiple areas and gates. After crossing a first court, another interior wall leads to the most famous area, through the Gate of Supreme Harmony. Farther inside the city, the Gate of Heavenly Purity leads to the inner court which was even more protected. Symbolism has a great part in the architecture of the city, influencing colors, shapes, names and decorations.