The Forbidden City in Beijing still has some parts that are off limits for tourists, but they can never block the path to the alleged ghosts that are said to linger. These Imperial Palaces are said to be haunted by former concubines, and according to legend, possibly cursed as well.

Built in the early 1400s, Beijing’s Forbidden City (紫禁城), literally means the purple forbidden city and is a complex of majestic buildings and grounds that bears witness to the rise and fall of China’s powerful emperors and countless of people that lived and worked inside of the imperial walls. 

Chock-full of ancient secrets, cultural treasures, and hidden stories, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of Beijing’s most iconic attractions where almost 20 millions visit each year.

The place is only open in the daytime, and it has gotten people to speculate that the reason for it is the paranormal activity that happens during the night. 

Beijing’s Forbidden City

The Imperial Palace, known as the Forbidden City, dates all the way back to 1406 and was the former imperial palace and a winter residence of the Emperor of China from the Ming Dynasty to the Qing Dynasty when Yongle Emperor moved the capital from Nanjing to Beijing. 

Beijing’s Forbidden City provides a window into the imperial past of China. Filled with over 980 buildings including centuries-old palaces, gardens, and monuments, this site can tell us a lot about the grandeur of China’s dynastic rulers. 

Members of the ruling family, aristocrats, and high-ranking officials would live in one of the nine inner court halls at the Palace. Each hall was responsible for holding different types of ceremonial gatherings or major events arranged by the Emperor himself. 

Ghosts of the Forbidden City

Confucius once said: “Respect the ghosts and gods, but keep away from them.” This can seem to be a bit tricky at this location however, as it is said to be plentiful of ghosts around the Forbidden City. 

Rumors of mysterious phenomena have swirled around the Forbidden City for centuries. As the palace was once reserved for China’s imperial family, it’s believed to be haunted by their ghosts and other supernatural occurrences. 

Given its immense history and cultural significance, it’s only natural for the Imperial Palace to be filled with tales of ghosts and spirits. When the palace was due for renovation in the 1940s, the guards that were placed outside of it had tales to tell when they returned about strange animals running around as well as the ghosts of people that had died in the palace. 

There are tales about hearing a strange flute music heard in the dark hours in the empty city, but perhaps it’s the story about the weeping women that are most told. 

The Forbidden City is Cursed?

Emperor Yongle did a lot of great things during his reign, including making Beijing the capital, building the Forbidden City for over 15 years, surrounding himself with global masters of philosophy, religion and did long strides in making peace and war with neighboring countries. He spent most of his reign asserting his claim to the throne, as he was for many seen as a usurper as his nephew Jianwen was really in line for the throne. 

After he took the throne from him he killed the palace’s servants and loyalists that could bear any doubt about his position as emperor. The nephew he burned to death. 

When he was opening the Forbidden City he invited nobles from all around to show them he was the true emperor and cement his claim to the throne in the splendor of the newly founded Imperial Palaces. 

The Massacre of his own People

Over 2 800 concubines, servant girls and eunuchs belonging to his harem were executed to suppress a sex scandal that would humiliate Emperor Yongle when he was going to show the banquet in the newly built imperial city in 1421 when the opening ceremonies were being held on New Years Eve. 

One of his favorite concubines had been found after taking her life. She had an affair with one of the eunuchs, and the shame for the Emperor was that he didn’t have his subjects in order and didn’t have control. 

A few years later a fire took down over 250 buildings after the lightning struck it and killed numerous men and women as well. It was speculated that this was damnation and a punishment for his evil acts that no lucky charms could prevent. 

Emperor Yongle fell into a depression, og this or something else is not for certain. He died a few years later in 1424. A clause for the concubines was that they would never take another man, And the only way to ensure it was that they would die along with the emperor. So when he died, he collected 15 of his favorite concubines and their servants and hung from a silk noose in the Forbidden City. 

It would be another 15 years before the new Emperor rebuilt the destroyed halls, but would reside there until 1911 when the imperial rule was ended by revolutionaries. 

The Concubine Ghosts

One story that keeps being repeated is that of the crying women, and in the Forbidden City, there were plenty of them throughout the years. Many speculate it is the ghost of one or more concubines as the crying woman is often seen in or around the quarter for the imperial concubines. 

One young man once insisted that he had seen one of these crying women, dressed in all white , walking the grounds. He approached her and tried to speak to her from behind, but she didn’t hear, and didn’t even turn around. 

Who could it be? Some unfortunate soul from the massacre? One of the many woman who died 

There are also some that claim that the weeping women, or perhaps something else entirely.  The story is that one night in 1995 there was a woman, this one reportedly dressed in all black with long black hair. The guards all thought she was a thief and chased her around within the Forbidden City. When they cornered her, she turned around and revealed that she had no face before disappearing. 

More like this

Newest Posts


Haunted Beijing: The Forbidden City

Forbidden City – Wikipedia 

Revenge of the evil emperor: Mass slaughter in Beijing’s Forbidden City | Daily Mail Online 

Leave a Reply