See the Forbidden City from above at Jingshan Park
Start the first day with a hike up the steep hillside of Jingshan Park, which is directly across from the north gate of the Forbidden City. The pagoda at the top of this hillside, which was created from earth dug out from around the imperial palace to create a moat, offers one of the best views of the city. From here, you can see across the central meridian of the Forbidden City, where 24 emperors lived for hundreds of years. In Marco Polo’s description of the Forbidden City, he wrote that the palace’s interior walls and ceilings were covered with glittering gilt and paintings of dragons and horsemen. The roof was multi-coloured and “so brilliantly varnished that it glitters like crystal and the sparkle of it can be seen from far away”. In modern times, though, appearances have changed. The Forbidden City is a vast, empty space devoid of these embellishments. Therefore, while the Forbidden City may be top the list for most visitors, for those with limited time, this viewpoint from the park is a better alternative.