Why stop here:
Away from the most-crowded central route, the architectural compound is the site of a major office serving the imperial court. It lies to the far west of the Gate of Supreme Harmony (Taihe men, the gate preceding the Hall of Supreme Harmony). The Inner Golden River meanders in front of the compound and runs all the way east to the quadrangle between the Meridian Gate and the Gate of Supreme Harmony (Taihe men). One of the purposes of the hall after the Ming Dynasty and from the late seventeenth century onward was to compile, print, bind and store imperially commissioned books; it had previously been made available to painters who would execute paintings as required by the emperor. Rising from beyond the Pass of Mountain by Sea (Shanhai guan), the “outsider” people of the Manchu Qing regime ruled an immense territory. Adapting to the native culture and integrating traditional Chinese cultural values with the building of a strong monarchy were top agenda items throughout the Dynasty. Producing high-quality authorized books seemed to be the best way to control culture and promulgate the ruling ideas to the vast country.
The compound is now the Ceramics Gallery, displaying an array of the Museum's permanent collection of stoneware, earthenware, and fine porcelain spanning thousands of years of Chinese civilization.
Close to the east side of the compound is a long passage way leading up to a western entrance to the Six Western Palaces (Xi liugong) - the living quarters of imperial wives and concubines. The southern section of the passage is bordered by groves of trees. In summer under the scorching sun you will find the shelter of cool shade here, while in the deep autumn the yellow ginkgo leaves against the neighboring red wall light up the grove - an ideal place for photographs. Halfway along the passage is a single-arch bridge spanning the Inner Golden River. It is said to be even older than the Forbidden City.