Secrets of China's Forbidden City

Secrets of China's Forbidden City


There’s no shortage of documentaries about Xi’an and the Terracotta Warriors, but much of our knowledge of the Forbidden City in Beijing comes from films like The Last Emperor. It was the royal palace for some 600 years and, as the title suggests, it’s full of secrets, as well as being a masterpiece of innovative building techniques.

This documentary looks at the technical mastery that went into the creation of a magnificent warren of streets and buildings, and there are surprises galore. We think of China as a country that for centuries cut itself off from outside influence, but recent conservation work has revealed an unexpected trace of Europe. And they also knew a thing or two about making their buildings earthquake-proof…


Documentary exploring the Beijing palace that housed Chinese emperors for 600 years. The programme reveals the current conservation work being carried out and uncovers new details about past rulers, including trade with Europe and how a marble staircase was transported along an ice road. A scale model is used to demonstrate how the structure was built to withstand earthquakes.