Entering the Forbidden City
Today I walked the Forbidden City, which reputation has grown to mythic proportions. Though I did walk the streets of the actual Forbidden City in Bejing, but it's virtual representation which can be found at the Beyond Space and Time project page.
"The Forbidden City was the Chinese imperial palace from the mid-Ming Dynasty to the end of the Qing Dynasty. It is located in the Dongcheng District, in the middle of Beijing, China, and now houses the Palace Museum. For almost five centuries, it served as the home of the Emperor and his household, as well as the ceremonial and political centre of Chinese government.
Built from 1406 to 1420, the complex consists of 980 surviving buildings with 8,707 bays of rooms and covers 720,000 square metres. The palace complex exemplifies traditional Chinese palatial architecture, and has influenced cultural and architectural developments in East Asia and elsewhere. The Forbidden City was declared a World Heritage Site in 1987, and is listed by UNESCO as the largest collection of preserved ancient wooden structures in the world.
Since 1924, the Forbidden City has been under the charge of the Palace Museum, whose extensive collection of artwork and artefacts were built upon the imperial collections of the Ming and Qing dynasties. Part of the museum's former collection is now located in the National Palace Museum in Taipei. Both museums descend from the same institution, but were split after the Chinese Civil War." [wikipedia]
After registering (you'll find me there as VJBURNS) and downloading the 200 MB client I could install the virtual city with a neat MSI installer and after a couple of forced software updates (which I'm not fond of) I immersed myself in the virtual city, which looks fantastic. I've always been a sucker for history (also been a member of the earliest online history communities, Ancient Sites since 1995 or so.)From the official press release:
“The Forbidden City: Beyond Space & Time” Recreates Historical Treasure as a Fully Immersive 3D-Internet Experience
BEIJING, Oct 10, 2008 — Today, some 600 years after construction began on the 178-acre site that would become the center of unrivalled imperial power known as China’s Forbidden City, the Palace Museum and IBM will open the walled fortress — and hundreds of years of history and culture — to the world.
Three years in the making, IBM has meticulously built a virtual recreation of the architecture and artifacts of the former palace grounds, enabling online visitors to get a first-hand view into imperial China as embodied in the intricate design, history and storied culture of this newly accessible Forbidden City.
The Forbidden City: Beyond Space & Time” is a first-of-a-kind, fully immersive, three-dimensional virtual world that recreates a visceral sense of space and time of this Chinese cultural treasure — as it was centuries ago during the height of the Ming and Qing dynasties — for most anyone with access to the Internet.
Full press release here.
Well, I'm in early, the city just opened it's doors today and we're still under 2K registered users with about 300 online right now. Be prepared to take a few minutes for installing and loading, but then it looks lovely.
In particular two areas are advertised as being highly splendid on the website, being the Meridian Gate,
The Meridian Gate is the front entrance to the Forbidden City. It has five gateways, with the central gateway being reserved for the emperor.
and the Gate of Supreme Harmony
The Gate of Supreme Harmony is the largest gate inside the Forbidden City, and serves as the front entrance to the Outer Court. The gate is located on the central axis and lies just before the Inner Golden River.
More early birds on blogging the Virtual Forbidden City (coverage appearing while I'm doing this extensive download, installing and touring):
- TechCrunch - Real World got you Down
- Virtual World News - IBM and Palace Museum Open Forbidden City Virtual World
- The Forbidding is becoming quite popular. Registrations see a rise of about 2,000 per hour, barely one day in public mode it's already gotten to 32,000 registered users.