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Old Summer Palace's core area to open to public
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A part of the Old Summer Palace's core area, the former residence for China's royal families, is to open to the public for a trial period on Tuesday.

It is the first time for Jiuzhou, a 400,000-square-meter area, to be open to the public since the ancient imperial palace was built in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).

The Jiuzhou scenery comprises 14 garden sites. These include Jiuzhou Qingyan, the biggest man-made island where emperors and their families lived.

"Located in the western part of the palace, Jiuzhou scenery is also the core area which shows art, architecture and collections together," said Chen Mingjie, a palace official.

The Old Summer Palace on the northwestern outskirts of Beijing was restored from ruins of the former imperial garden Yuanmingyuan built in 1709. It was burned down by the British and French troops in 1860, partially rebuilt, and then sacked again by allied forces of eight invading foreign powers in 1900.

The clean-up of the Jiuzhou scenery started in 2003, and currently, hills and rivers have been restored. Starting in mid September, visitors can take a boat ride from Fuhai Lake to Houhu Lake, Chen said.

With the opening of the Jiuzhou scenery on Tuesday, about 80 percent of the Old Summer Palace will be open to the public. The remainder will begin its restoration this year and be finished in 2010.

(Xinhua News Agency July 28, 2008)

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