|This image was taken around 7:30 in the morning. You have to get there fairly early to get the sun to light up the details on the superstructure. The Meridian Gate has two wings called "Guan". Each of them has thirteen rooms in the superstructure. They are commonly know as the ‘Wild Goose Wing Towers’. Each of the wings is finished with square pavilions with pointed and double eaves.
The design of the Meridian Gate originated in the Han Dynasty (206 BC - 220 AD) as a defensive measure. The entrance to the palace could be defended by archers from three sides. A variation of this defense is found on many city gates. The wings are joined with another wall to provide a trap should the enemy break through the outer wall. That provided the best defense of the weakest point. The fourth wall of the enclosure was not necessary on the Forbidden City since there were two more exterior walls well distant from the palace enclosure.
Last update: January 2010
© Marilyn Shea, 2009