Most-visited palace
The Forbidden City
17 million people
China (Beijing)

The Forbidden City in Beijing, China, had more than 17 million visitors in 2018, the most recent year for which figures are available. Construction on the site began in 1406, under Emperor Zhu Di, and lasted for 14 years. More than a million workers were employed on the build. Today, the Forbidden City covers 720,000 square metres (180 acres), incorporating 980 buildings.

The Forbidden City was the seat of the Ming Dynasty between 1420 and 1644. From 1644, after its brief capture by forces under Li Zicheng, it became the seat of the Qing dynasty, first under Emperor Shunzhi. When the last emperor of China, Puyi, abdicated in 1912, the city lost its position as the heart of politics in the country. Henceforth, Puyi lived in the city’s Inner Court (until he was overthrown in a coup in 1924) and the Outer Court became a public area. The Palace Museum was set up in the city in 1925.

In 1987, the Forbidden City became a UNESCO World Heritage Site, formally titled the “Imperial Palace of the Ming and Qing Dynasties”. There have been concerns about the impact of the volume of visits on the ancient structure, which dates from 1406 to 1420, and daily visitors are limited to 80,000 each day over a 76-day period. The palace museum has expanded considerably over the past decade with 80% of the museum accessible to the public, up from 20% in 2012.