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Potala Palace Plaza Renovation Completed

The Potala Palace plaza has taken on a fresh face to welcome tourists from the world and celebrate the 40th anniversary of the establishment of the Tibet Autonomous Region.

Completion of the Potala Palace plaza renovation project was celebrated in Lhasa on Saturday, according to Xinhua News Agency.

The project, started in late March, has cost 150 million yuan (US$18.5 million), including paving bricks, landscaping, a musical fountain, and new broadcasting and power facilities.

Qiangba Puncog, chairman of the Tibet Autonomous Region government, said the renovation of the square was part of the central government's efforts to protect the Potala Palace, a world heritage site, reported Xinhua.

The repaired plaza is a combination of modernity and Tibetan cultural features. Post-renovation, the plaza is a multi-functional square that can be used for the purposes of rest-taking, recreation, cultural activities and get-togethers, said the leading regional official.

The project was completed late last month. The new square, covering 18 hectares, will be the main venue for the upcoming celebration of the 40th founding anniversary of the Tibet Autonomous Region, according to Xinhua.

An old man named Tashi in his 70s could not help but see the changes of the renovated plaza together with his grandson and granddaughter as soon as the plaza was opened to the public. He told the Tibet Daily that when he was a kid, he once caught frogs for fun on the wetlands before the Potala Palace. Now he was glad to see the wetlands transformed into a broad and beautiful plaza.

Potala Palace was first built by the Tibetan King Songtsa Gambo in the 7th century during the Tang Dynasty (AD 618-907), and was extended during the 17th century by the Dalai Lama.

In 2002, the central government invested a total 179.3 million yuan (US$22 million) into the renovation of the Potala Palace.

Potala Palace, together with the Norbu Lingka and the Sakya Monastery, are the three main Tibetan cultural heritage sites. They have been restored with a total investment of 333 million yuan (US$40 million) by the central government since 2002.

The Potala Palace is the essence of ancient Tibetan architectural art. It was added to the list of world cultural heritage sites by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 1994.

(China Daily August 22, 2005)

The Potala Palace plaza
Facelift of Potala Palace Square Finished
Facelift for Ancient Tibetan Buildings
Renovation of Potala Palace Square Begins
Maintenance on Three Tibet's Cultural Sites Runs Smooth
Tibetan Palace to Be Renovated
Potala Wall Repairs Begin
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