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The Shenyang Imperial Palace

The Shenyang Imperial Palace was built in 1625 when the Manchus declared Shenyang to be their capital. Upon founding the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), the Manchus moved their court to Beijing and Shenyang became the secondary capital, which was later called Shenyang Imperial Palace. The palace was enlarged and improved over the years and while its layout has the traditional Han style, it also blends with the Manchu, Mongolian and Han styles.

In 1625, Nurhaci began construction of the palace and completed in 1636 under Aisin Giorro Abahai's reign (or Huang Taiji, son of Nurhaci). Although it is considered a miniature of the Forbidden City in Beijing, the Palace by comparison is smaller in scale, covering an area of over 60,000 square meters. It has a cluster of palaces surrounded from east, middle and west sides, the layout of which appears to be natural, sublime and imposing.

The Shenyang Imperial Palace comprises three parts of architectures. The Dazheng Hall and the Shiwang Pavilion, built during the reign of Nurhaci, are the main architectures on the east axis. The main architectures on the central axis are the imperial halls built during the reign of Abahai, including Daqing Gate, Chongzheng Hall, Phoenix Tower, Qingning Hall, Guanju Hall, Linzhi Hall, Yanqing Hall and Yongfu Hall. On the west axis there are Wusu Pavilion, Jiayin Hall and Yangxi Room, which were added to the palace during the reign of Emperor Qianlong of the Qing Dynasty. It is said that though the Forbidden City in Beijing had formed a large scale and was magnificent, Qianlong preferred to visit the Shenyang Imperial Palace now and then.

The Dazheng Hall, located in the center of the architecture on the east axis, is an octagonal pavilion-style building. It has two pillars entwined with dragons to present dignity and solemnity because important national ceremonies like enthronement or death of a sovereign, and announcement of going out for a battle. On the two sides of the hall are ten pavilions called the Shiwang Pavilion (Pavilion for Ten Kings) for the Manchurian tribal lords and the two kings to gather for discussion of state affairs.

The Chongzheng Hall, where Abahai attended to his political affairs, on the central axis is the most important building in the palace. The Phoenix Tower, located north of the hall, was then the highest building in Shenyang City. The Chongzheng Hall also looks like a pavilion as a whole, but since it has a big bulk and is magnificently decorated, it was called a hall instead of a pavilion.

For its huge collection of valuable palace cultural relics, splendid architectural scale and extraordinary appearance of imperial palaces, the Shenyang Imperial Palace is the most intact imperial building ever existing in China's history, only next to the Forbidden City. It is famous for its unique characteristics of the Manchu nationality.

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