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Beijing renovates cultural sites for Olympic visitors
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Beijing plans to invest 120 million yuan (16 million U.S. dollars) in restoration of cultural sites this year, in order to present an original look of the sites to visitors during the Olympic Games.

The renovation projects include the Confucius Temple, the Imperial College, the Imperial Ancestral Temple and 28 other historical or cultural sites this year, vice director of Beijing Cultural Relics Bureau Yu Ping said.

Tourist explanation boards written both in English and Chinese languages would be placed in more than 300 major historical and cultural sites under municipality protection before the Olympics, Yu said.

The bureau also printed six million copies of Chinese-English tourist maps of Beijing's cultural sites. During the Olympic Games, the maps would be handed out at the Beijing International Airport, in international airlines, Olympic Village, hotels and restaurants.

Renovation projects also include the Siheyuan, a compound with houses around a courtyard, and Hutong, alleys formed by lines of Siheyuan, which were the main living quarters for old Beijingers. As unique constructions, Hutong and Siheyuan have attracted an increasing number of foreign tourists in recent years.

The projects, involving 44 Hutongs, 1,474 courtyards and about 10,000 residents, are expected to be completed at the end of June in the hope of protecting the old buildings as well as improving people's living conditions.

According to the plan of restoring cultural sites, Beijing would spend 1.2 billion yuan to have all the sites renovated in eight years.

(Xinhua News Agency February 27, 2008)

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