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Forbidden City Hall to Close for Repair

The most important building in one of China's top tourist attractions is closing for two years for renovation work.

Repairs on the Hall of Supreme Harmony (Taihedian) in Chinese at the Forbidden City, or Palace Museum, are due to begin on Friday. They are expected to be completed by 2008, in time for the Beijing Olympic Games.

To make the hall look how it did when first built, workers will use original materials and procedures.

A cloth, 40 meters high and 70 meters wide, is being placed over the hall while the work takes place.

As the symbol of imperial power, the hall was where Ming and Qing (1368-1911) emperors received high officials and exercised their rule over the nation.

It was also where great ceremonies were held, including those marking accessions, birthdays and the publication of lists of successful candidates in imperial examinations. It was also where war was declared.

The renovation of the hall is a major part of the biggest restoration project in the history of the Forbidden City. By 2008, areas open to the public will be nearly 400,000 square meters, 12 per cent more than now.

Among the areas under repair, the Hall of Supreme Harmony, the largest and best-preserved wooden hall in China, has attracted the most attention.

Since being rebuilt in 1695 in the reign of the Qing (1644-1911) Emperor Kangxi, the aged building has had to face three major problems the affects of the weather on glazed tiles, water leaking onto wood and coloured paintings on its walls fading away.

"Many wooden parts were distorted because of years of over-loading," said Li Yongge, director of the restoration center at the Palace Museum. "It needs surgery," Li added. "We are carrying out a thorough check."

Tickets to the Forbidden City will remain the same, at 60 yuan (US$7.5) for adults.

(China Daily January 4, 2006)

Hall of Supreme Harmony to Be Restored
Forbidden City Undergoes Large-Scale Overhaul
Luxurious Palace in Forbidden City to Be Renovated
Imperial Palace Undergoes Centenary Renovation
Renovations Begin on Beijing's Forbidden City
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