The Mukden Palace (simplified Chinese: 盛京宫殿; traditional Chinese: 盛京宮殿; pinyin: Shèngjīng Gōngdiàn), or Shenyang Imperial Palace (simplified Chinese: 沈阳故宫; traditional Chinese: 瀋陽故宮; pinyin: Shěnyáng Gùgōng), was the former palace of the Later Jin dynasty and the early Qing dynasty. It was built in 1625, and the first three Qing emperors lived there from 1625 to 1644. Since the collapse of imperial rule in China, the palace has been converted to a museum that now lies in the center of Shenyang, Liaoning.
After the Qing dynasty replaced the Ming dynasty in 1644 in Beijing, the Mukden Palace lost its status as the official residence of the Qing emperor. Instead, the Mukden Palace became a regional palace.
In 1780, the Qianlong Emperor further expanded the palace. Successive Qing emperors usually stayed at the Mukden Palace for some time each year.
In 1955, the Mukden Palace was converted into the Shenyang Imperial Palace Museum.
The Mukden Palace covers an area of around 60,000 square metres, with over 300 buildings and 20 courtyards. According to its layout, it can be divided into three parts: East Section, Middle Section and West Section, with the Middle Section as the main body. The East and West Sections were built in the Nurhachi Period. The layout of the buildings from the Eight Banners system in the East Section is a unique feature of the Mukden Palace. It combines architectural features of the Manchu, Han and Mongol peoples.
The main part of the Middle Section is located in the centre of the ancient city of Shenyang, built in the Hong Taiji period. The buildings are arranged on a central axis with a number of symmetrical out-buildings on either side. The West Road building was built in 1783.
This structure has a strict functional division with a clear distinction between primary and secondary status buildings, the overall composition displays distinct Manchu living features.
The Dazheng Hall (大政殿) and the Shiwang Pavilion (十王亭) were built during the Nurhachi period. It was completed in 1625 and was the place where the emperor held the "Great Ceremony" as well as the office of the Eight Banners Ministry. Dazheng Temple is an octagonal heavy-duty building with a yellow glazed tile and green trimming, 16 multicoloured glazed ridges, large wooden frame structure with Mortise and tenon joint, flying roof arch, colour paintings and dragon plates, which is the traditional architectural form of the Han Dynasty. Additionally, the decoration of Cintamani and ceilings with Sanskrit add a religious feature. The Dazheng Hall and the Shiwang Pavilion constitute a complete group of buildings in the East Section.
Daqing Gate (大清门), Chongzheng Hall (崇政殿), Fenghuang Building (凤凰楼), Qingning Palace (清宁宫), amongst others, were built from 1627 to 1635. It was the place where the emperor carried out political activities and the living palace of the royal wives. The most representative building of the middle section is the Fenghuang Building, a palace which was built on a 4-meter-tall blue-brick platform, as the place of the emperor holding banquets. While facing east the palace of Fenghuang Building is connected with a religious ritual square, the room in the west is surrounded by a Kang bed-stove, a traditional way of keeping warm in the Northern part of China. The chimney is located in the back, an architectural feature of the Manchu People.
Xitai (戏台), Jiayintang (嘉荫堂), Wenshangge (文溯阁) and Yangxizhai (仰熙斋) were built in 1782. When an emperor of the Qing dynasty was on his "East Tour" to Shengjing (Shenyang), it was the place for reading books, watching dramas and the room for storing the "Complete Library of the Four Treasuries". The entire architectural design and layout reflect the emperor's so-called "dignity" and strict feudal hierarchy. In Mukden Palace, the roof alone was worth 680,000 Tael, equivalent to the annual ration of 450,000 poor peasants.
Today, the Mukden Palace hosts a rich and precious collection of items. The Mukden Palace Museum displays a large number of artifacts, such as the sword of Nurhachi and the waist knife and antler chairs of Hong Taiji.
The collections of the Mukden Palace Museum are based on the Qing imperial collection, including porcelain, enamel, lacquerware, sculpture, calligraphy and painting, weaving embroidery, etc. Which has both the historical and cultural features of the Early and late Qing dynasty costumes and palace art that has a rich cultural connotation and artistic value.