A GLORIOUS PAST, A GLOWING FUTURE
Laid out in grids, the city of Beijing reflects the cosmic order of the world according to Chinese philosophy. The Forbidden City is a city within the metropolis, whose waves of varnished tile roofs long dominated the jumble of low houses built outside its walls. Modern urbanization is rapidly gnawing away at the hutongs, the narrow gray lanes that embody Beijing’s traditional culture. In keeping with the principles of feng shui, the massive wooden doors that seal off the interior courtyards always open southward, like those of the Imperial City. To see its endless succession of rooms housing collections of vases, bronzes, musical instruments and painstakingly lacquered boxes, especially from the Ming and Qing dynasties, visitors enter through the Gate of Heavenly Peace, at the end of the immense square bearing the same name, Tiananmen.