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Memories of the Forbidden Gardens in Katy, TX

Posted: March 31, 2016 at 7:21 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)

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Forbidden Gardens Preserved in Photos

The reason memories is in the title of this article is that the once fabulous attraction called Forbidden Gardens is now permanently closed and no longer exists. At least it has been preserved in photos and some videos.

One saw this statue & horse before entering the grounds.

See what I wrote about this attraction many years ago…

If traveling to China is not in your foreseeable future and yet you would like to experience The Forbidden City in all of its glory, come to Katy, Texas. There you can see a replica built in a scaled down version in the Forbidden Gardens. Prepare yourself for the wow factor!

In addition to the Forbidden City, you will also discover the 1/3rd scale model of the 6,000 piece terracotta army that was found buried in a hill accompanying Emperor Qin into the afterlife.  And there is more.

Photo of Emperor Qin's terra cotta army in Katy, Texas

Photo of Emperor Qin’s terra cotta army in Katy, Texas

Some of our friends that visited the Forbidden City in China thanked us for introducing this to them before their trip. Because of touring this large scale model at the Forbidden Gardens, when they were among the actual buildings in China, they had a better sense of how each structure and its purpose was interrelated to the entire city. They had learned that right here in Texas.

A gem of a discovery!

Commissioned by Ira P. H. Poon who is a multi-millionaire from Hong Kong now living in Seattle, Washington he wanted something that would remind him of the Forbidden City in China. Supposedly because of less expensive land costs, he found this site on open prairie land in Katy, Texas to be suitable for his massive project.

Around 20 million dollars was spent in creating this outdoor museum on 40 acres of land.

The 3rd largest Asian community lives in and around Houston which was another reason for locating the Forbidden Gardens here.

Seen inside the buildings before getting to the massive outdoor display:

Back during the Qin Dynasty, the weapons were made primarily using bronze as the building material. A few pieces consisted of iron. Some had a coating of chromium which made them appear to be untarnished even after thousands of years being buried underground along with the terracotta soldiers and horses of Emperor Qin’s army.

Swords, spears, lances, crossbow type weapons and others were among the items discovered.

A primary transportation mode was the sedan chair pictured here with my mother-in-law standing next to it. The person being transported would have been served by people hoisting up the attached bars and pulling the chair as they maneuvered through the streets of China.

The very fancy and ornate red empress chair would have been held aloft by many people. The Empress would have been taken to her wedding in this elaborately decorated transport.

Red was a color signifying good fortune. Back then the brides wedding dresses were also in the color red hoping that this would help bring about a good marriage.

Emperor Qin

Statue of Emperor Qin

Statue of Emperor Qin

Pronounced like “chin,” his full name was Qin Shihuang. He was the first ruler of a unified China and was responsible for ending centuries of war.

Emperor Qin was both hated and loved by his people depending upon how one prospered or faired under his rule.

Qin was responsible for a considerable amount of the building of the Great Wall of China.  Forced labor was utilized, and many who died during construction are reputedly buried in that same wall.

Supposedly he had over 3,000 concubines buried alive in his mausoleum. He also had hundreds of scholars buried alive because they did not teach what he wanted them to be instructing.

Image at Forbidden Gardens

Image at Forbidden Gardens

Details on buildings at Forbidden Gardens in Katy, TX

Details on buildings at Forbidden Gardens in Katy, TX

To Qin’s credit, he created the longest reigning system of government. The Imperial System of Dynasty in China lasted over 2,200 years.

He standardized the system of weights and measures.

Also to his credit:


Folk Music

Axles on chariots

Abolishing the feudal system of land holdings

Emperor Qin was an interesting fellow, to say the least, and ruled for 36 years in China leaving a lasting legacy.

Intricate detailing on buildings at Forbidden Gardens

Intricate detailing on buildings at Forbidden Gardens

When he died, he was interred in a hillside, and until recent history, he and everything buried with him went undisturbed.

In 1974 peasants in the eastern-central part of China just outside Xi’an were digging a well to find water and accidentally discovered what was to become a significant archaeological find of enormous significance and impact. They never did find water, but the discoveries made that day led to much further exploration of the area and served to enlighten the world about the first emperor’s tomb and what was buried with him.

Still only partially excavated today, around 7,000 life-size terra cotta soldiers and horses have been discovered guarding the entrance to Emperor Qin’s tomb.

This was spread out over an area of about 5 1/2 acres.

The guide that took us around one day in the Forbidden Gardens explained the reason why everything has not yet been excavated. He told us that mercury was found to exist and as it is incredibly poisonous, some of what is buried underground remain there today. Was this done on purpose? We can only speculate.

At the Forbidden Gardens in Katy, one can see a one-third scale 6,000 piece army of Emperor Qin’s horses and soldiers. Some of them are full sized. These were all made in China using the clays that exist over there which account for the color variations.

Each one is hand modeled after the actual ones in China, and most of the soldier’s faces are different! Amazing to see! I truthfully saw no two that were alike!

The Forbidden City

Peking (now Bejing) was founded over 3,000 years ago.

The Imperial City which became known as the Forbidden City covers an area of 16 square miles where the emperor lived and ruled. Only certain persons were allowed within these quarters, and the general populace was excluded. It is a walled city created initially for defensive purposes.

This city originated during the 15th century when the Ming Dynasty was in rule, and the emperor Yong Le was responsible for the creation of most of the structures within the Forbidden City.

Today the Forbidden City in China is open to the public as a museum.

Replicas of smaller vacation palaces outside the Forbidden City

Replicas of smaller vacation palaces outside the Forbidden City

The scaled down replica in Katy, Texas is remarkable in its accuracy as to scale and form. Even the construction materials reflect the actual woods, tiles and so forth used in the original city in China. The clay figures representing people were all handcrafted in China as well.

The creation of this entire enterprise truly reflects a labor of love and desire on the part of Mr. Poon.

The interesting part of all of this is that it is rarely publicized and not that many people even those residing nearby know about the Forbidden Gardens.

Be Prepared

Make sure the Forbidden Gardens is open and operating when you care to visit. As it is primarily an outdoor museum and covers a great deal of ground, be sure to wear comfortable walking shoes. Take precautions regarding the sun. If you are visiting in the summer wear sunscreen protection or hats or use umbrellas.

We have taken several visitors to this site, and they are amazed at what they have learned and experienced. We have enjoyed our periodic trips as well and always absorb a bit of knowledge each time that we might have missed learning during previous visits.

Whether you get to visit the Forbidden Gardens in Katy, Texas in person or not, hopefully, I have given you an idea of some terrific sightseeing activity in this nearby Houston attraction.


As stated at the top this Forbidden Gardens is now a part of Katy, Texas history.  The Grand Parkway highway is now located on a portion of this property, and all the items were sold off in an auction.

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