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Mukden Palace - A Miniature Forbidden City with Unique Manchu Features

Interesting Facts of Mukden Palace

  • It is one twelfth of the size of Beijing Forbidden City;
  • It was added to the UNESCO World Heritage list on the 28th Session of the World Heritage Committee held in Suzhou;
  • The entire palace cluster was built under the leadership of three emperors instead of one;
  • It witnessed the establishment of China's final imperial dynasty - Qing Dynasty (It was the first imperial palace of Qing. After that came Beijing Forbidden City.);
  • It had no toilet or restroom until 1746;
  • It has three central axis instead of only one like Beijing Forbidden City;
  • It has now become a museum, namely Shenyang Imperial Palace Museum.

Mukden Palace History

Mukden Palace was built in Mukden (the nowadays Shenyang) in 1624 by Nurhaci - the first emperor of the Manchu Dynasty, which later became known as the Qing Dynasty - the final imperial dynasty in China's history. The palace was the main imperial palace of the dynasty until 1644, when Qing moved their capital to Beijing. This big change made Beijing Forbidden City took in place of Mukden Palace as the main imperial palace. However, this does not mean that Mukden Palace is no longer active in history. Mukden Palace was then treated as the imperial place of the second capital of Qing (1636-1912). Every year after that, the emperors would routinely return to Mukden Palace to live for a period of time. During then, the emperors would also worship their ancestors and inspect people's life in person.

In 1920s, Mukden Palace was changed to a museum, becoming one of the earliest museums in China. The museum was firstly named Museum of Three Provinces of Northeast China, later been changed to Mukden Palace Museum, and finally named Shenyang Palace Museum. However, some people still like to call it Mukden Palace, or Mukden Imperial Palace. In 2004, it was added to the World Cultural Heritage List on the 28th Session of the World Heritage Committee held in Suzhou.

Why Visit Mukden Palace? - Highlights & Layout Map

Though Mukden Palace (or called Shenyang Palace Museum) is much smaller than Beijing Forbidden City, it is no shortage of elegance and majesty. This cherished historic architecture cluster is composed of as many as over one hundred of ancient buildings, occupying a large area of 60,000 square meters. There are large groups of royal collections and numerous ancient royal legends and stories to explore.

The whole palace or museum can be divided into three parts , including the West Part, East Part and Central Part.

East Part of Mukden Palace

East part boasts the oldest buildings with strong Manchurian styles, including Dazheng Palace and ten ancient pavilions.

Dazheng Palace (大政殿) and Ten Pavilions (十王亭)

Dazheng Palace was a vital place to held grand ceremonies like state dinner, victorious party after a war and so forth. It was also here that the coronation held after the emperor changed the name of the country to Qing in 1636. On the ground in front of Dazheng Palace are the ten pavilions. The two pavilions close to Dazheng Palace used to be the places where Beiles (a rank of the Manchu nobility below that of the Prince) handle official business. The other eight pavilions belong to eight banners. The banner system was the basic organizational framework of Manchu society. It was first created to divide the armies. Finally, the military strength vanished, but banners became synonymous with Manchu identity. Each of the pavilion was designed in tent shapes, which is extremely unique in Chinese palace architecture.

Mukden Palace Mukden Palace Layout Map Mukden Palace Dazheng Palace and Ten Pavilions

Central Part of Mukden Palace

The central part or the middle part of Mukden Palace has the main entrance of the palace or museum, the main residences for the emperors, empress and the imperial concubines.

Daqing Gate (大清门)

Daqing Gate is the main entrance of the palace. Once you want to visit Mukden Palace, you will enter it from this gate. In ancient times, the officials would waiting at the open space in front of the gate before holding meeting with the emperor.

Chongzheng Hall (崇政殿)

This hall was a regular place for the Qing emperors to meet his court officials, receive foreign envoys and handle state affairs.

Phoenix Tower (凤凰楼)

The Phoenix Tower was built on a 4-meter-high platform with 24 stairs leading to its gate. This 3-layer-tall building was the highest architecture of Mukden Palace and even the entire Mukden (nowadays Shenyang). Emperors, empresses and the imperial concubines used to admire the sunset, sunrise and cool the summer heat here.

Qingning Palace (清宁宫)

Qingning Palace was the residence of Hong Taiji (a famous emperor of Qing Dynasty) and his empress. In 1643, he died here. By the two sides of the palace were four living rooms of four Mongol imperial concubines of Hong Taiji, including the famous Empress Xiaozhuang.

West Part of Mukden Palace

Amongst all the buildings of Mukden Palace, those in the west part are the newest built. However, they are still well worth your visit. Architectures here include a theatre, a library, etc.

Mukden Palace Central Part of Mukden Palace Mukden Palace Phoenix Tower Mukden Palace Phoenix Tower

What's Nearby of Mukden Palace?

Marshal Zhang Mansion (张氏帅府博物馆)

Address: No.46, Shaoshuaifu Alley, Chaoyang Street, Shahe District, Shenyang, Liaoning, China (沈阳市沈河区朝阳街少帅府巷46号); about 1 kilometer and 10 minutes away from Mukden Palace by walk.

Marshal Zhang Mansion was the residence site of former army marshal Zhang Zuolin and his son Zhang Xueliang. Built in 1914, it is the largest and best preserved former residence in Northeastern China and was inscribed on the 20th Century Architecture Heritage List of China in 2017.

Mukden Palace Marshal Zhang Mansion

Beiling Park (Zhaolin Park)

Address: No.12, Taishan Road, Huanggu District, Shenyang, Liaoning, China (沈阳市皇姑区泰山路12号); about 9.3 KM and 20 minutes away from Mukden Palace by car.

Beiling Park, or called Zhaolin Park or Zhaoling Tomb of the Qing Dynasty, is one of the Three Famous Tombs in Mukden, which was listed in the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 2004. Beiling Park is the largest one. The word Beiling means a tomb in the north in Chinese. Beiling is located in the north of Mukden (Shenyang), hence the name.

Mukden Palace Beiling Park (Zhaolin Park)

How to Get to Mukden Palace?

Address: No. 171, Shenyang Road, Shenhe District, Shenyang, Liaoning, China (沈阳市沈河区沈阳路171号).

Shenyang City operates convenient airport shuttle bus, taxi, subway and city bus, allowing you to get around the city in ease. At present, the best ways for visitors to get to Mukden Palace include metro, taxi or private car.

Mukden Palace

By Airport/Train Pick-up Service of China Discovery (Convenient and Affordable)

No matter you are visiting Shenyang by flight or train, booking a private tour with pick-up service is the most convenient way. You can get rid of checking the local traffic situation. There is also no further need to ask a taxi or search for the bus station with your heavy luggage. All our Shenyang Tour Packages include airport/train pick-up service. If you are interested, please feel free to contact us!

Shenyang Private Car Service Shenyang Private Car Service

By Airport Shuttle Bus (No Direct Line)

Shenyang Taoxian International Airport has airport shuttle bus lines connecting it and Shenyang downtown. However, those buses cannot take you to Mukden Palace in direct. There are four lines offered. You can hop on a bus getting to Mengzhilong Bus Terminal (龙之梦客运站). Thereafter, ask a taxi or ride the Shenyang Metro Line 1 to Mukden Palace. The airport shuttle bus journey takes about 1 hour. And the metro trip needs 20 minutes or so.

By Metro (Budget Choice)

There are two metro stations on Line 1 close to Mukden Palace, namely Huaiyuanmen Station (怀远门) and Zhongjie Station (中街). Each of them is about 600 kilometers and 10 minutes around to/from Mukden Palace by walk. If you are going from Shenyang Railway Station (沈阳站), this is the best choice, because this railway station is also on Line 1.

By Taxi (Good Choice)

You can also ask a taxi to get there. In this modern city, it is relatively easy to find a taxi, even at night or midnight. However, sometimes it may waste your time when there are crowds, especially at the airport, train station, etc.

Check more about Shenyang Transportation >>

How to Plan a Shenyang Tour with Visits to Mukden Palace?

Visitors usually spend 1~3 hours to visit Mukden Palace. High speed trains can take you from Beijing to Shenyang in ease and convenient. The train trip takes only 3 hours around. Upon arriving, you can take half day or one day around to explore Mukden Palace and other highlights in the downtown. After that, travel further northeast to visit Changbaishan and Wusong Island in Jilin, Jingpo Lake, China Snow Town and Harbin Ice and Snow World in Harbin. If you like, you can also head to Harbin first , and then visit Shenyang before getting back to Beijing. Such a Northeast China Winter Tour takes about 8 days or so to finish.

For those looking for some short autumn feast from Beijing, Tianjin or Shanghai , you are highly suggested to visit Shenyang downtown and Benxi together. Benxi is repeated as the "The Capital of Maple Leaf in China". When autumn comes, bright red maple leaves will decorate its mountains and valleys, presenting impressive and imposing landscape.

Travel Shenyang with China Discovery

If you are planning to visit Shenyang and searching for some worry-free and time-saving help, we China Discovery is always glad to help! We are experienced in Shenyang tours and itinerary. We have professional local guide and driver to guarantee you a wonderful trip. The guide will tell you interesting historic background of Mukden Palace and the tombs. The driver will help you to travel around the city, including the airport, train station and attraction site, in convenience. You can just spend your limited vacation hours to indulge in the history and landscape. If you are interested, please contact us to get inspired.

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