The Imperial Palace in Beijing has by some accounts 9,000 doors. The hard earned patina of each is being scraped off and repainted one by one.
The Forbidden City is the largest palace complex in the world and parts of it are constantly under renovation in order to maintain it. But the biggest makeover in almost a century has been accelerated in recent years the first phase of which will be completed in time for the 2008 Summer Olympics. Who couldn’t use a major facelift after more than 500 years?
To enter the Forbidden City you must first past through the impressive red doors of Meridian Gate the main entrance. Supreme Harmony Gate awaits you after walking across one of the five carved marble bridges of the Golden Stream. It overlooks an immense courtyard that held up to 100,000 members of the royal audience. If you squint your eyes just so you can almost see the ghost shadows of the whispering eunuchs who served the court.
Which door in the photographs above would you prefer to open?