The city was built from 1406 to 1420 in the reign of the Ming Dynasty Yongle Emperor. It served as the seat of power for 24 emperors, over the course of 491 years. And why is it called the Forbidden City? Because it was not just for anybody. Not for the hoi polloi, nor the flotsam and jetsam of society. Not for the proleteriat, but only the privileged and dignified. The poor enter at their own peril. It was off limits to them.
But then, the Hausa say "Seriki goma, zamani goma" (Ten kings for ten epochs) and then times and seasons would change. The Forbidden City, located over vast hectares of land, with over 8,000 buildings and 1,800,000 sets of artifacts, fell to the 1911 Revolution led by Dr Sun Zhongshan. Yes, the good does not last forever, neither does the evil last forever. The Qing Dynasty (which was ruling then) came to an end, and the city was turned to a museum. Millions of tourists throng the place today from differnt parts of the world. A place that was once forbidden to commoners is now host to anybody and everbody. That is why it is good to belong to everybody, rather than to a privileged few.
A tour guide took us round the Forbidden City, with its galleries of ceramics, clocks and watches, and other treasures, most in pure gold. Members of the dynasty really lived it up, drawing the wine of life to the full, and "the mere lees is left the vault to brag of." (William Shakespeare).
The palace museum is believed to be the largest surviving wooden palace structure in the world. Most of the treasures, in gold, silver, jade, pearls and other precious materials, represent the highest artistic level of their time, and the splendour of the imperial family. Those of them who had died before the Forbidden City became a public place, would turn in their graves, if they know what has become of their much vaunted royal abode. The good does not last forever, neither does the evil last forever. Seriki goma, zamani goma. The pauper can become a prince, while the prince can become a pauper. Time and chance pertains to them all.