Meridian Gate is situated on the north-south axis of the Forbidden City and is the main entrance to the city. This wonderful structure was first built in 1420, rebuilt in 1647 during the Qing Dynasty and repaired by the Qing Dynasty in 1801.
Meridian Gate is 35.6 meters high with five openings. The central opening was for the emperor only. The senior civil and military officials went through the gate on the east and the royal family went through on the west. Low ranking officials went through the side gates.
The Meridian Gate was a place where the Emperor issued imperial edicts. He would grant spring pancakes at the start of spring, rice cakes on the Double Ninth Day, and bean paste cake during the Dragon Boat Festival. In the month of October the emperor would announce the next calendar year. If there was war victory, to rejoice in the success of the army, a ceremony was held for presenting captives to the emperor. The Meridian Gate was also the place where offending officials were punished.
The Meridian Gate has a concave layout with 5 towers appearing just like a flying phoenix. The central tower, with two roofs, is about 198 feet long, 82 feet wide and 39 feet high. On both the east and west sides two corridor-like structures extend southward and connect two towers that have two spires on both ends.