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Beijing reopens historic Qianmen shopping street
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The Olympic host city on Thursday reopened one of its oldest commercial areas as the latest cultural and tourist attraction, one day prior to the Games.

After a massive refurbishment lasting over one year, the Qianmen Street in the heart of the city was opened to visitors. A dozen local brand-names originated from Qianmen in the past century, such as the Quanjude roasted duck restaurant and the Zhangyiyuan tea house, were reopened to business the same day.

Beijing's oldest downtown commercial street, or the Qianmen Street, reopens to tourists on Aug. 7 after a year of renovation, a day ahead of the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games. As the capital's oldest neighborhood built in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), Qianmen, south to the Tiananmen Square, is expected to become a new tourist attraction during the Games. [Chen Jian/China.org.cn]

Along with the Great Wall and Tian'anmen Square, the Qianmen Street is one of the "must-see" places listed in many tourist guides.

The area is expected to display Beijing's historic and cultural heritage to visitors from all over the world, which is also in line with the Olympic spirit to encourage cultural exchange and mutual understanding, said Wang Chengguo, spokesperson of Beijing's Chongwen District where the street locates.

Qianmen Street lies on Beijing's historic central axis just south of the Tian'anmen Square and the Forbidden City, the imperial palace from the mid-Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) to the end of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).

The commercial street took shape about 570 years ago and reached its peak of importance in the 1920s and 1930s, garlanded with restaurants, theaters, silk stores and tea houses. It was still a famous shopping area even before the refurbishment, despite its rundown conditions and over-population.

The street was closed for the face-lifting project in May 2007, with old buildings demolished and road surface newly paved. A tramway was also restored after it was discontinued in the 1960s.

But the tramway along the 840-meter street will not be operational during the Olympics because Olympic marathon runners will pass along the street, Wang said.

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