In 1421, after 17 years under construction, Yongle, a Ming emperor, became the first to occupy the imperial palace and residence. 24 Ming and Qing dynasty emperors followed him until 1911 when Puyi, China's last emperor of the Qing Dynasty, addicated the throne on the founding of the Chinese Republic. While it is known as the Imperial Palace many know it as the Forbidden Palace. It earned the name because ordinary people were barred from entering the grounds until 1911. The palace occupies 170 acres and contains 8,706 rooms. It is estimated that 8 to 10 thousand people lived within the palace to service the needs of the emperor. Eunuchs, up to 3 thousand of them, along with the emperor's maids and concubines lived within its 160 foot moat and behind its 30 foot high walls following the strict rules and rituals of imperial life. Anyone who would like to see what the Imperial Palace looks like should watch the movie The Last Emperor. It was filmed on location and shows in much detail much of the palace grounds and its buildings. Of course the experience isn't the same as visiting the palace in person, but it will give you a good idea of what the palace is like.

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