Forbidden City facelift to finish in June

By Chen Jia (China Daily)
Updated: 2008-04-23 09:55

After more than five years, renovation work at the Forbidden City will be completed ahead of the, a spokesman for the Palace Museum said.

"The government has spent about 400 million yuan ($57,000) on the first phase of the project, which began in 2003, and will spend 1 million yuan a year until 2020," Jin Hongkui, deputy director of the museum, told China Daily.

"The renovation of all the buildings along the axes is expected to be completed by the end of June, in time for the Beijing Olympics," he said.

Almost 30,000 sq m of the museum have remained open to the public while the repair work has been ongoing. By next year, almost 400,000 sq m will be open, including the Supreme Harmony (Taihedian), hall, the highest and most striking building in the Forbidden City, Jin said.

The city was where the emperors of the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties received high officials and ruled over the nation.

Zhang Kegui, senior engineering director of the palace museum, said yesterday: "To maintain the authenticity of the historic site, we have used original materials and procedures wherever possible."

The ancient building was suffering from three major problems: the affects of the weather on glazed tiles, water leaking onto wood and the loss of color from the painted walls, he said.

The new-look Forbidden City will also be more welcoming to disabled visitors, with the addition of elevators in 10 of the most popular halls, he said.

A team of 200 guides will also provide improved services for blind people.

(China Daily 04/23/2008 page3)