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Ancient Treasures Open to Public for Culture Display
An ancient Buddhist temple -- the extensively renovated Zhengjue Temple near Baishiqiao in the western part of downtown Beijing -- will be thrown open to the public at the weekend for an exhibition on China's glorious stone carving culture.

The temple was built in the early 15th century during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) and was destroyed at the end of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).

Throughout history, the temple has been rebuilt and revamped several times. This time, it has enjoyed its largest-scale renovation.

A building for Buddhist scriptures was also constructed according to the temple's ancient layout and style.

Visitors to the renovated temple, which is home to the Beijing Stone Carving Museum, will be able to appreciate hundreds of stone carving masterpieces, learn about stone inscription and the history of Beijing's stone carving culture.

A special hall to introduce the historic and cultural relics will be a part of the weekend exhibition, being held on Saturday.

Meanwhile, an ancient architectural complex of the Xiannong Altar -- the Divine Kitchen -- was opened to the public on Wednesday after being renovation.

An exhibition to showcase the historical and cultural evolution of the Xiannong Alter was held.

Built in 1420, the altar was a worship place where emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties offered sacrifices to farming gods and held tilling ceremonies.

At the start of the agricultural season every spring, ancient emperors usually performed rituals at the alter to ensure a bountiful harvest.

The Beijing Ancient Architectures Museum, located in the altar complex, has many pictures, photos and elaborate models showcasing the achievement of China's architectural history.

The complex has 10 showrooms to introduce palaces, altars and shrines, monasteries, temples, mosques and residences, as well as mausoleums and tombs.

Visitors will be able to learn about the development of Chinese ancient architecture from hutch and mud homes to the Qing Dynasty.

Besides the renovation of Zhengjue Temple and Xiannong Alter, Beijing is restoring one of its old entertainment areas to its glory of 90 years ago.

A 330-metre-long and 28-metre-wide street is being built in a southern area of Beijing called "Tianqiao," which means bridge to heaven in Chinese.

Old Tianqiao was famous for its entertainment during the last 50 years of the 19th century and was especially known for grassroots art. Almost all Beijingers went to Tianqiao for holidays and festivals.

The new Tianqiao will be user friendly for visitors in a bid to make them feel at ease in the area.

(China Daily September 27, 2002)

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