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Ancient City Gates in Beijing

Nine ancient city gates for the inner Beijing where is Second Ring Road today. In days of yore, Beijing was consisted of an outer city and an inner city, with the imperial city (also known as Forbidden City, or the Former Imperial Palace) contained in the inner city. Altogether there were 20 city gates. Entering or exiting these gates by carts and horses was governed by hard-and-fast regulations.

Zhengyang Gate
The Zhengyang Gate (or South-Facing Gate, Zhengyangmen) is for the exclusive use of royal sedan chairs and carts to show the supremacy of the feudal monarchs. The gate stands to the south of Tiananmen Square; during the Ming and Qing dynasty it was the front gate of the inner city of Beijing. Built in 1419 or the 17th year of the Yongle Reign of the Ming dynasty, it is by far the only well preserved city gate tower in Beijing.

Xuanwu Gate
Aka the Gate of MIlitary Virtue (Xuanwumen), known in old days as Gate of Complaisant Rule, it was the gate for prison vans. Felons sentenced to death by decapitation were escorted through this gate to the executioner's ground at Caishikou south of the city.

Fucheng Gate
Or Mound Formed Gate (Fuchengmen). It was the gateway for coal transportation in the old days. In ancient times Beijing got its coal supplied from Mentougou on the western outskirt, and the Fucheng Gate was the only gateway for coal-shipping carts.

Xizhi Gate
Xizhi Gate (Xizhimen)s also called Straight West Gate. Known in the past as Gate of Peaceful Righteousness, the Xizhi Gate was for tanks transporting water from Yuquan Hill to the imperial city. At the time the emperors drank water from the Yuquan Hill to the imperial city. At the time the emperor drank water only from the Yuquan Hill.

Desheng Gate
Or Gate of Moral Triumph (Deshengmen). It was the gate through which the imperial army returned to the capital from an expedition.

Anding Gate
Or Gate of Peace and Stability (Andingmen). The Anding Gate was for carts transporting night soil out of the city. There is something symbolic about the name of this gate, which means Gate of Stability.

Dongzhi Gate
Literally called Gate of Worship of Benevolence (Dongzhimen), was opened exclusively for timber transportation. For this reason it is also known as Gateway of Firewood.

Chaoyang Gate
It is literally translated into Sun-Facing Gate, also known as Gate of Homogeneous Civilization. Chongwenmen was the city's passageway for grain transportation. That is why there were quite a few imperial granaries inside the gate. These included the Lumi Granary, the Nanmen Granary, and the Qianliang Granary.

Chongwen Gate
It is also called the Gate of Literary Virtue (Chongwenmen). Known otherwise as Hade (or Hada) Gate, it was the gateway through which liquor and wine were brought into the city.

There were seven gates for the outer city: Guangqu, Guang'an, Zuo'an, You'an, Dongbian, Xibian and Yongding. During the Ming, to protect south Beijing as a commercial and handicraft centre, the imperial court had planned for the construction of an outer city wall around the imperial city, but due to financial difficulties only part of the wall was erected in southern Beijing. Seven gates were opened into this wall for the convenient of local residents.

Access to the imperial city was by four gates, Tian'an, Di'an, Dong'an and Xi'an, which were for the exclusive use of officials and generals going to and from the imperial court. These gates were off limits to common people.

Few of these gates exist now, as most of them have been torn down, but their names have remained.

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