The Virtual Forbidden City is a 3-dimensional virtual world where visitors from around the world can experience the Forbidden City in Beijing. You can explore the magnificient palace as it was during the Qing dynasty, which ruled from 1644 until 1912, the end of the Imperial period in China.
The Forbidden City was created to embody the idea of the emperor as the center of the universe, and to evoke a visceral sense of his power. This huge palace complex was completed in 1420 and covers more than 72 hectares (178 acres). It contains hundreds and hundreds of exquisite buildings and historic artifacts. Now, using virtual world technology, you can experience the awe inspired by this vast and amazing space. And rather than experiencing its wonders in isolation, the Virtual Forbidden City allows you to see and interact with other users and a range of helpful automated characters. As you explore the Virtual Forbidden City, you can choose to simply observe the buzz of activity, or you can take tours and participate in activities that provide insights into important aspects of Qing culture.
While it provides an immersive and compelling experience in its own right, the Virtual Forbidden City also provides an unequalled way to plan a visit to the Palace Museum in Beijing, as the Forbidden City is now known. If you are lucky enough to be able to visit the Palace Museum, you will be much better able to find your way and to understand the significance of places and things that you encounter because of your experiences in the Virtual Forbidden City.
Given the depth and longevity of Chinese history and culture, the Virtual Forbidden City can only begin to reveal the countless amazing stories that can be told. Hopefully, your explorations here will encourage you to learn more about what you encounter, and to continue to return to the Virtual Forbidden City to discover things that you haven't yet experienced.
The Virtual Forbidden City provides several tools to aid in your exploration, although your own sense of curiosity will always serve you best. Don't hesitate to move through the Virtual Forbidden City looking for areas of interest and clicking your mouse to see if more information is available.
During your visit you will be represented within the Virtual Forbidden City by a figure known as an avatar. Your avatar can take the form of any of several people dressed in Qing era clothing. Registered users can select any of the available avatars and your choice will be saved for future visits.
To help you find your way during your visits, maps are available to both show you your current location and a history of your journey, and also to help you find interesting places to explore. You can find majestic halls, animated scenes from Qing life, and even activities that give you an opportunity to learn by interacting with computer controlled characters. Another excellent way to explore is to join your fellow visitors on one of the many guided tours that wind throughout the Virtual Forbidden City. These tours cover a range of interesting topics and lead you to places that help explore important themes about the design and use of the Forbidden City.