First Courtyard and Inner Golden River
After entering the Meridian
Gate, located at the Southern end of the complex,
visitors arrive in an immense courtyard that begins with
five bridges stretching over the 'Inner Golden River'.
On the east
side looking north.
In part, the five bridges represent the
five Confucian virtues of humanity, sense of duty,
wisdom, reliability and (ceremonial) propriety.
Further, the central bridge is reserved
for emperors exclusively. The two flanking it are
reserved for royal family members while the two outer
ones are for ordinary officials. The bridges are well
decorated with marble balustrades carved with motifs of
dragon and phoenix.
The river serves as fire hydrant in
case of fire as well as serving the principles of
FengShui and decoration. Its bed and sides are paved with
white stone to enhance the beauty of the water.According to the principles of Feng
Shui, the ideal location for a home is facing south with
water in front (the Golden River) and a mountain or hill
The huge courtyard covers
a space of over 10,000 square meters. The grand size was
both to accommodate large numbers of people on ceremonial
occasions and to create a sense of imperial majesty.
The 5 bridges, with the Gate of
Supreme Harmony across the courtyard.
The Inner Golden River continues on each side of the first courtyard.
: The Gate of Supreme Harmony