The renovation of six World Cultural Heritage sites in Beijing,
home of the XXIX Olympiad, will go into high gear this year. In
2003, the Beijing Municipal Cultural Relics Bureau formulated the
Cultural Relics Protection Plan for the 2008 Olympics. The sites
included in the plan are: the Peking Man ruins at Zhoukoudian, the
Great Wall, the Summer Palace, the Temple of Heaven, the Forbidden
City and the Ming Tombs.
The Summer Palace
Palace, in northwest suburban Beijing, was first built in the
12th century as an imperial garden. The emphasis of this year's
renovation project is on the refurbishment of Foxiangge (Pavilion
of Buddhist Fragrance) and Paiyundian (Cloud Dispersing Hall), two
scenic spots situated on the 58-meter-high Longevity Hill.
Several renovations in the course of their history have
partially changed the original appearances of the eight-sided,
three-story Pavilion of Buddhist Fragrance and Cloud Dispersing
Hall, where Empress Dowager Cixi (1835-1908) celebrated her
birthdays. The current project will restore both buildings to their
original appearance as described in historical documents.
Specific measures include substituting traditional gray bricks
for the cement bricks currently paving the floor; and inspecting
and repairing all sloped, double-eaved roofs and carved brackets
supporting the overhanging eaves from the columns.
Some of the paintings that adorn in the Long Corridor, which
links the scenic spots on the south side of Longevity Hill, will be
replaced. Changes will be limited to those that are not
The Forbidden City
The massive renovation of the Forbidden
-- the most extensive since the Qing Dynasty was toppled
in 1911 -- will continue through 2020.
Besides the ongoing overhaul of the Wuyingdian (Hall of Martial
Prowess), which started on October 17, 2002, Wumen (Meridian Gate)
and Yanxi Hall will be added to this year's work schedule.
The Meridian Gate, the main entrance to the Forbidden City, was
first built in 1420 and remodeled in 1647. Five structures above
the gate, commonly known as the Five Phoenix Towers, as well as
adjoining corridors are to be repaired.
In 1908, Empress Dowager Longyu provided funds to build the
glass-walled Lingzhao Pavilion in Yanxi Palace. Construction was
brought to an abrupt halt by the outbreak of the Revolution of
1911, which eventually overthrew the Qing Dynasty. Work to be done
on the building includes reinforcing bearing columns, replacing
rusted parts and repairing stone steps to the pool garden in the
The first 500,000-year-old Peking Man skull was unearthed in 1929
at Longgu (Dragon Bone) Hill, northwest of Zhoukoudian
in the southwest suburbs of Beijing. The discovery made Zhoukoudian
China put the site under state protection for key cultural
relics in 1961, and in 1987 it was included on UNESCO's World
Cultural Heritage list.
Unfortunately, in the recent years rock mining, in addition to
erosion from the elements, has accelerated damage to the already
worsening natural environment around the prehistoric site.
On August 12, 2003, the Beijing Municipal Cultural Relics Bureau
held a seminar on protection of Zhoukoudian. The Institute of
Geology and Geophysics of the Chinese
Sciences was assigned to conduct a thorough field
investigation. Scientists determined that a total of seven fossil
sites at Zhoukoudian were in dangerous condition.
As a result, a program for the preservation of Peking Man relics
is now being developed and is expected to be completed this month.
The program will get under way immediately after receiving approval
The Temple of Heaven
The Temple of
, located in southeastern central Beijing, is China's
largest existing complex of ancient ceremonial buildings. After its
completion in 1420, some 22 emperors conducted splendid sacrificial
rituals here. Qiniandian (Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests) has
become a world-famous symbol of Beijing City.
However, several renovations over the centuries have changed the
exterior of the hall, and it now clashes with the ancient buildings
that surround it.
This year's refurbishment will focus on restoring the original
appearance of the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests. Tasks will also
include clearing weeds from the roof; repairing the broken eaves;
replacing the pavement with gray brick; and protecting all the
stone sections, including the dragon-head carvings, from
The Great Wall
Maintenance and repair of the Great
Wall, which stretches some 6,700 kilometers across China, is an
overwhelming task. The Beijing Municipal Cultural Relics Bureau has
adopted a sector-by-sector solution to this problem, and chosen the
Simatai section of the Great Wall as this year's priority
The Simatai Great Wall lies on steep mountain slopes in Miyun
County, on the northern border of the greater Beijing area. Simatai
has more beacon towers than other sections of the Great Wall, with
the two closest standing just under 44 meters apart, and the two
farthest, 600 meters.
Using traditional materials and technologies, workers will
repair and consolidate gates, battlements and wall sections that
have already partially collapsed. In addition, lightning conductors
will be attached to iron and steel support struts and railings that
have recently been added to the wall.
The Ming Tombs
Thirteen Ming Dynasty emperors were buried in the tombs built
from the 15th to 17th centuries in a broad valley at the foot of
Tianshou (Heavenly Longevity) Mountain in Changping District, about
50 km north of Beijing.
The Beijing municipal government declared the Ming
Tombs a protected site in 1957, and four years later it was
placed under state protection for key cultural relics. At the 27th
session of UNESCO's World Heritage Committee in July 2003, the site
was officially included on the World Cultural Heritage list.
Beijing has already begun its program to renovate the Ming Tombs.
Work on the Deling and Kangling tombs began in 2002. Consolidation
of the walls surrounding the Kangling Tomb and clearing of its
drainage ditches should be completed this year.
Repairs on the Qingling and Tailing tombs will begin this
The Qingling Tomb was built for Zhu Changluo, the 14th emperor
of the Ming Dynasty, and his three wives. The surrounding walls,
minglou (the tallest building above ground at an emperor's
mausoleum), single-arched stone bridge and drainage systems are
included in the list of items to be repaired.
The Tailing Tomb was built for Zhu Youtang, the 9th Ming
emperor. The walls around the tomb will be consolidated and the
drainage ditches cleared.
When the renovations are complete, the visitors and athletes who
come to Beijing for the 2008 Olympic Games will be able to see the
best of the city's long history and profound cultural legacy.
(China.org.cn by Shao Da, February 25, 2004)