This week’s featured photo is from the Forbidden City, the palace of Chinese emperors for almost 500 years in downtown Beijing. It’s the most popular tourist attraction in the city, but somehow I managed to get this photo without a soul in sight — and therein lies a tale. On my trip to Beijing in 2014, my friend Brian and I toured the Forbidden City one afternoon, along with thousands of other tourists. I shot a lot of photos, but most of them were filled with people, crowding around the pavilions and blocking my shots to take their selfies. As well, the battery on my camera died half way through the afternoon.
I left with photos of the Forbidden City, but not the ones I wanted. So on our last day in Beijing, I got up early and hopped the subway to the Forbidden City to make amends. I got there just as it opened, so few other tourists were around. And I whizzed through the most visited areas quickly: I knew where I wanted to go. Off to the side of the main pavilions is an enclosed quarter where the members of the royal court used to spend their leisure time. It’s full of small courtyards filled with ornamental buildings, rock carvings, hidden doorways and ancient artifacts.
It’s also filled with wonderful corridors designed to lead the eye onward — to the next room, the next courtyard, or perhaps just toward the horizon. And that’s where I took this photo, looking down a long corridor decorated with red and green panels, latticework and painted ceiling beams. To me, this was a visual delight. And in the calm of the morning, it was as if I had the Forbidden City to myself — for a moment, at least.