The Gate of Heavenly Purity leads to the Inner Court. This is the first Palace of the Inner Court. The Three Rear Palaces, like the Three Great Halls for official ceremonies, stand on a north-south axis on a huge stone terrace.
The general layout of the Palace of Heavenly Purity is very similar to that of the Hall of Supreme Harmony, except for the fact that most of the structures are just a bit smaller (because the greater the size, the more senior the building).
Also there is a smaller sun-dial, smaller tortoises, smaller grain measure, smaller storks and other smaller scale items. This Palace is also the largest of the three rear palaces. It was built in 1420 and was burnt down several times.
The Palace we see now dates from 1798. Under the Ming and Early Qing dynasties, the Emperor lived inside this Palace. Emperor Yongzheng in the Qing Dynasty moved the living quarter to the Hall of Mental Cultivation, which is located immediately to the west of this Palace.
However, even after Emperor Yongzheng moved, this Palace continued to be a place for the emperors to handle daily affairs and to hold private audiences. Foreign ambassadors were also received here.
The Imperial throne sits in the middle, as always, surrounded by some decorations like the cloisonne incense burners, some long red candles, and the big mirrors.
Mirrors placed in the central room of the Palace were supposedly to ward off evil spirits. This belief is still deeply rooted in the minds of many Chinese.
Hanging on the wall in the center is a plaque bearing an inscription which says "To be fair and open".
The last emperor, Puyi, was married in December 1922 in this Palace.
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