Ancient Plumbing in China’s Forbidden City Keeps it Dry While Other Cities Suffer Severe Floods

In the past week, China has faced heavy rains that brought extreme flooding and landslides to a number of vulnerable areas. As of Monday, nearly 300 people have died or went missing, while hundreds of thousands were displaced.

Most deaths were concentrated in northern China. Surrounding Beijing, the Hebei Province was hit worst, with at least 114 casualties. Over nine million people were affected and nearly 300,000 evacuated, Los Angeles Times reported.

In Beijing, where 37 people died, one place welcomed thousands seeking safety at the height of the storm: the Forbidden City.

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As it turned out, the ancient palace had a drainage system that protected it from the overwhelming flooding. It was one of the few areas that remained open during the calamity, taking 30,000 people in, BBC noted.

The Forbidden City was built back in the Ming Dynasty in the early 1400s. The palace illustrates traditional Chinese architecture that goes by the idea of “high north, low south,” Shanghaiist pointed.

Netizens naturally saw the site’s resistance to flooding and commented:

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“Engineering level: Ancient China.”

“With all our technological advances, modern drainage systems can’t even beat the ancient ones that were erected six centuries ago!”

Others looked into the present situation:

“Of course the drainage system in the Forbidden City is excellent. Those who didn’t work hard to build the damn thing were beheaded as a warning to others back in those days. Now, even with awful drainage systems, we can’t even find someone to blame.”

“Why couldn’t this 600-year-old system have been used for other buildings as well if it’s so effective? Many lives could have been saved.”

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Covering about 72 hectares, the Forbidden City is also known as the largest ancient palatial structure in the world. Constructed between 1406 and 1420, it was home to 24 emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties.

Today, it is recognized as one of the five most important palaces in the world, joining Buckingham Palace in the U.K., the Kremlin in Russia, the Palace of Versailles in France and the White House in the U.S.

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