Huge Stone Carving
Behind the Hall of Preserved Harmony, in the middle of the stairway, is a huge piece of marble carving of nine dragons playing with pearls. It is the biggest stone sculpture in the Forbidden City. It was originally sculpted in the Ming dynasty and re-sculpted in the Qing dynasty. In the Ming and Qing dynasties, anyone who was caught touching this holy stone would be punished by death penalty! The huge stone was hauled into the palace all the way from Fangshan, about 70 kilometers away from Beijing city proper. The hard transportation took about a month and 20,000 men and thousands mules and horses. The 16.57 meters long, 3.07 meters wide and 1.7 meters thick stone weighs about 250 tons. It was said that a well was dug every 500 meters and water was pumped out onto the road to facilitate transportation! Can you imagine that?
Ready to go into Qianqingmen (Gate of Celestial Purity) the gate of the Inner Court? Go north!