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The Working People's Cultural Palace

Updated2008-06-06 10:19 | Source

  The Working People's Cultural Palace is one

  of the first-class public parks in Beijing. It lies

  to the east of Tiananmen. It used to be the

  ancestral temple for emperors of the Ming and Qing

  dynasties to offer sacrifices to their ancestors. In

  1924, it was renamed Peace Park and opened to the

  public. In 1931, it was taken over by the Palace

  Museum as one of its branches. After the founding of

  the People's Republic, on Jan. 6, 1950, the

  Political Affairs Department passed a decision to

  hand it over to the city of Beijing as a place for

  laborers' cultural activities. On April 10, 1950,

  the Palace Museum officially handed it over to the

  General Labor Union of Beijing, which changed it

  into the Working People's Cultural Palace, and

  Chairman Mao inscribed the name. On May 1, 1950, it

  was opened to the public as a 'school and amusement

  park' for laborers in the capital.

  The cultural palace, or rather the Imperial

  Ancestral Temple, was built in 1420, or the 18th

  year of Emperor Yongle's reign in the Ming Dynasty.

  It was renovated many times in the reigns of

  Jiajing, Wanli (Ming Dynasty), Shunzhi, and Qianlong

  (Qing Dynasty). It covers a total area of 197,000

  square meters. It is encircled by three layers of

  red walls. In its courtyard are over 700 ancient

  cypresses. Behind the Liuli Gate are seven white

  marble bridges called Jade-studded Belt Bridges. To

  the south of them, on both sides stand the sacred

  kitchen and the sacred warehouse. To the north of

  them, on either side is a hexagon pavilion housing a

  glazed well. The three large halls behind the

  Halberd Gate are the major part of the complex. The

  first one is called the Hall of Worshiping

  Ancestors; the second, Bedroom Hall; and the third,

  Tiaomiao Temple.

  Regularly held in the hall are exhibitions or

  training courses in painting, calligraphy,

  photography, music, dance, literature, and

  gardening. Its authorities have created a Workers'

  Art Ensemble and a Workers' Orchestra, which have

  performed many times. It has been the stage for such

  influential events as Yanni's concert and the opera

  Turandot, which was performed before large

  audiences. On such holidays as May 1st and Oct. 1st,

  leaders of the Communist Party and the nation are

  gathered here for celebration in the company of

  common people.

  Major tourist attractions:

  The HalberdGate: This gate is five bays wide and two

  bays deep. Its single-eave, gradually curved roof is

  covered with yellow glazed tiles. Under the eaves

  are bulky dougongs (brackets between crossbeams and

  columns). The gate sits on a platform with white

  marble rails, the top of which is reached by nine

  steps adorned in the middle with a red slab of

  stone. The main gate is flanked by two smaller gates

  with single-eave roofs covered with yellow glazed

  tiles. There used to be eight red-lacquered halberd

  racks before and behind the gate, on which were

  placed 120 red halberds with silver handles and

  golden dragon patterns. But they were all taken away

  by the Eight Power Allied Forces in 1900.

  The Hall of Worshiping Ancestors: This is the

  principal building in the complex. It is five bays

  (68.2 meters) wide, six bays (30.2 meters) deep and

  32.46 meters high. It sits on a 3.46-meter-high

  three-tiered white marble platform. It was the place

  where emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties

  offered sacrifices to their ancestors at the end of

  each year. It was renovated many times during the

  two dynasties, but remained about the same as it was

  first completed in the Ming Dynasty in terms of

  layout and stone and wooden parts. All its

  components are made of very expensive nanmu (Phoebe

  Zhennan). It is the largest among surviving palace

  halls using this kind of wood in China. It has a

  double-eave roof covered with yellow glazed tiles.

  Below the eaves hang a gold-foil-covered, nine-

  dragon-girded plaque inscribed with the word

  Imperial Ancestral Temple in Chinese and Manchu. The

  ceiling, four pillars, and beams are adorned with

  colored gold dust paintings. The floor is paved with

  special golden titles.

  Bedroom Hall: This middle hall has a single-eave

  roof covered with yellow glazed tiles. It is nine

  bays (62.31 meters) wide, four bays (20.54 meters)

  deep, and 21.95 meters high. A stone terrace

  connects it to the Xiang Hall. It sits on a white

  marble platform encircled by stone rails adorned

  with carved dragons and phoenixes. The middle of the

  steps is adorned with a red slab of stone. The hall

  houses the memorial tablets of former emperors and

  empresses. It was also the place for sacrifices made

  at the beginning of each season, and sacrifices for

  coronation, (the emperor¨s) taking over the

  government when coming of age, the conferring of

  noble titles, or waging wars.

  TiaomiaoTemple: This rear hall was first built in

  1491, or the 4th year of Emperor Hongzhi's reign in

  the Ming Dynasty. Its single-eave roof is covered

  with yellow glazed tiles. It is nine bays (61.99

  meters) wide and four bays (20.33 meters) deep. It

  sits on a white marble platform encircled by stone

  rails adorned with carved dragons and phoenixes. The

  middle of the steps is adorned with a red slab of

  stone. It has a self-contained courtyard. It houses

  the memorial tablets of distant ancestors of the

  emperors.

  The Chinese Peace Bell: The bell, modeled on

  bianzhong (ancient musical instrument with 16

  bells), was cast with modern technology for the

  coming of the new millennium. Since its completion

  in November 1999, it has been placed inside the Hall

  for the Worship of Ancestors. It is 3.8 meters high,

  21 wide, and weighs 17 tons. It consists of 108

  bells in three rows. The 34 bells in the upper row

  symbolize the 31 provinces, municipalities,

  autonomous regions, Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan;

  the 56 ones in the middle row stand for the 56

  ethnic groups of China. The lower row consists of 18

  bells. The two at the extremities stand for peace

  and development, the theme of today¨s world, and

  the rest stand for the 16 historical periods the

  Chinese nation has been through. On the 320-kilogram

  central iron bell is engraved in gold President

  Jiang Zemin's inscription:C'May the Chinese Peal

  Bell Last Ten Thousand Years'. On Jan.1, 2000, the

  president became the first person to ring the bell.

  The Chinese Peace Bell is the largest double-pitch

  bianzhong for stage performance in the world. It has

  been listed in the Guinness World Record as the King

  of Bianzhong. It is nothing short of a national

  treasure.

  Address: east of Tiananmen, Dongcheng District,

  Beijing

  (Source:

  http://www.ebeijing.gov.cn/Tour/ScenicSpots/)

Editor : Zhu Jia

Opening ceremony of Beijing Olympics