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A palace was a structure of the utmost maturity, highest accomplishment and largest scale in China's development, clearly reflecting the characteristics of traditional Chinese culture which stressed a stable social and political order. A palace was the place where the emperor met his ministers and lived. In addition to meeting the emperor's material living demands, it provided strong spiritual influence to the people and prominence to the emperor's authority mainly through its solemn and magnificent majesty, its grand scale and compact spatial pattern. 

To achieve this, ancient Chinese architects adopted three kinds of architectural artistic techniques: first was showing the (volume and quantitative) difference of architecture: the more respectable structure, the greater its volume and the quantity of single structures that form this building complex; the second was that the axial symmetric method was stressed in the layout of the complex; the third was expanding the axial symmetric layout to all capital cities, further setting off the importance of the palace. Therefore, there was an inseparably close relationship between China's palaces and capital cities. Their development represented the process of continuous enrichment and perfection of the above-mentioned concepts. 

There were several famous palaces during the Qin and Han dynasties (221BC-220AD), such as the Epang Palace in Xianyang of the Qin Dynasty, the Weiyang Palace and Jianzhang Palace in Chang'an of the Han Dynasty. This marked the first upsurge in palatial construction, but due to remote antiquity details are not very clear. 

The second upsurge was set off during the Sui and Tang dynasties (581-907), such as the Daming Palace of the Tang Dynasty, and the perfectly preserved Forbidden City of the Ming and Qing dynasties (1368-1911).

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