One of the most famous historical tourist attractions in Shenyang, the Shenyang Imperial Palace or Mukden Palace (known in Chinese as Shényáng Gùgōng, 沈阳故宫) was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2004 for its relationship to the Forbidden City in Beijing.
Completed in 1636 under Abahai (Huáng Táijí, 皇太極), first emperor of the Qing Dynasty, the construction actually began under the Ming-conquering Manchu ruler Nurhaci.
Covering 60,000 sq m (71,759 sq yd), the layout and structure of the Shenyang Imperial Palace is based on the Forbidden City in Beijing. Its architecture however, is quite distinct, incorporating many interesting Manchu and Tibetan characteristics, intricate carvings and colorful glazed tiles. Visitors will also find that many of the displays, such as incredibly detailed scrollwork in the Chongzhen Hall (Chóngzhèng Diàn, 崇政殿) throne room, are in better shape than those found in the Forbidden City.
When the Qing replaced the Ming in 1644, they moved their capital to Beijing but Qing Emperors Kangxi, Qianlong, Jiaqing and Duoguang continued to stay there and worship their ancestors at the palace whenever they traveled to the northeast.
Highlights include the Qingning Palace (Qīngníng Gōngdiàn, 清宁宫殿), home to the Emperor Huang Taiji and his empress. Split into two main sections, the east side served as their personal chamber and the west side was used for regular sacrificial activities.
The Dazheng Hall (Dàzhèng Diàn, 大政殿) was the earliest of the Mukden Palace structures, and served as the the official court chamber of the emperor during the ceremonies that took place before it. The octagonal building stands at the head of the Ten Pavilions (Shígè zhǎn Guǎn, 十个展馆) that line the parade ground, five standing on each side. The two cloest to the Dazheng Hall belong to the emperor and the remaining eight were the official offices of the kings of the Eight Banner System. The layout of the buildings are a reflection of the state's administrative divisions.
The Wensu Pavilion (Wénsù Hé, 文溯閤), located in the northwest corner of the palace is striking for its unusual green columns and tile. It was constructed in 1782-83 and based on the Tianyi Pavilion in Ningbo.
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