Our first day in Beijing we walked to The Forbidden City, again we got lucky with a great hostel in a central location. I have read and learned about The Forbidden City, but nothing really prepared me for how big and intricate everything was, not to mention all the symbolism. Pictures don't give it justice, it is astounding to walk through a city of hand crafted art everywhere you turn, from painted walls, to carved wood and stone, even the copper basins to put out fire are breathtaking. To imagine the time it took for artiest, architect and engineers to make this place the way it is... mind blowing. Then to think of the people who spent and lived their lives within the walls it's just fascinating. History is fun that way, in school you learn about the great men, women, and civilizations of the world, then being able to walk the steps they once walked trying to imagine what life would have been like in their shoes is incomprehensible. Most the buildings were constructed from 1406 to 1420, it just blows my mind how well it has been preserved (I know a lot has been reconstructed but still it's impressive). The buildings seemed to go on and on forever, even with much of the outer city closed to the public. To us there seemed to be quit a crowed visiting, but as we entered we were told that the place was practically empty... I would hate to see how many people fit into the place during the busy season. We spent a few hours walking around and finally ducked into the Palace Museum to get away from the cold. We did not know it was a museum till we were inside, and I'm so glad we stumbled upon it too. So many artifacts including clothing, paintings, and ceramics from the Ming and Qing Dynasty. There we were able to learn a little about the Emperor's life and traditions. The cold was a wonderful crowd control, but when we got to the imperial garden, oh how we wished it was spring. I can only imagine how colorful it would have been in bloom. After we climbed Prospect Hill at Jingshan Park, to look out over what we had just conquered. There we found the same workmanship as The Forbidden City, everything the Emperor owned was just as intricate as the next.